The Ocean Cleanup project finally cleaned up some plastic

Well, folks, there’s a first time for everything — the Ocean
Cleanup project has successfully deployed a device that collects
plastic pollution.

Our ocean cleanup system is now finally
catching plastic, from one-ton ghost nets to tiny
microplastics!

Also, anyone missing a wheel? pic.twitter.com/Oq0rkXO3TH

— Boyan Slat (@BoyanSlat)
October 2, 2019

It only took six years, tens of millions of dollars, and a few
unsuccessful attempts (or “unscheduled learning opportunities,”
in the words of 25-year-old founder and CEO Boyan Slat). The
nonprofit’s prior, unsuccessful designs
failed to catch any plastic
,
broke
, or overflowed.

The new system even managed to pick up 1-millimeter
microplastics, which Ocean Cleanup described as “a feat we were
pleasantly surprised to achieve” in a
press release
.

Now that it finally has working technology, the Ocean Cleanup
project hopes to
scale up its fleet
of 2,000-foot long, plastic-capturing,
floating booms. The goal is to remove 50 percent of the Great
Pacific Garbage Patch in the next five years, and 90 percent of
ocean plastic by 2040, an effort it estimates will require around
60 devices.

The project has
drawn criticism over the years
from scientists who argue it
provides false hope and
is disruptive to marine life
. All that money and effort would
be better spent diverting the 8 million tons of plastic that enter
the oceans every year, the thinking goes.

To his credit, Slat
acknowledges the importance
of preventing pollution, not just
cleaning it up. And his team of more than 80 scientists and
engineers have also
done some research
that has contributed to what we know about
the sources, scope, and nature of ocean plastic pollution —
although their conclusions are
controversial
.

The first pieces of plastic gathered by Ocean Cleanup are on
their way back to the U.S. to be recycled. Is it a perfect solution
to the problem of ocean pollution? Probably not. But at the very
least, we can all celebrate today knowing that the Dutch
18-year-old from that TED
Talk
, who saw plastic while scuba diving and asked, “Why
don’t we just clean it up?”, is that much closer to his dreams
coming true.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline
The Ocean Cleanup project finally cleaned up some plastic
on
Oct 4, 2019.

Source: FS – All – Science – News
The Ocean Cleanup project finally cleaned up some plastic