Ocean Cleanup technology works, final tests show
Tests recently carried out prove that the technology behind the Ocean Cleanup project works. Therefore, the test phase is closed, and the large-scale clearing of plastic in the Pacific can begin, said initiator Boyan Slat.
During nine recent tests with one of the two large sweeping arms in the Pacific, 28,659 kilograms of plastic were removed from the water. In one test, 9,014 kilograms of plastic were found. In total, the Ocean Cleanup has already removed almost a million kilos of waste from seas and rivers. This mainly concerns plastic, but also organic waste such as wood and aquatic plants.
"It hasn't always been easy, but we've always focused on our mission," said Slat, emphasizing that the company is now entering a "new phase." Ocean Cleanup continues to develop and is currently designing a new and larger type of sweeping arm that can become the "blueprint" for further cleanup actions. "It's just the tip of the iceberg, but the kilograms of plastic we've removed from the ocean now are the most important ever because we've proven the technology works," Slat said.
Ocean Cleanup has two large sweeping arms in the Pacific Ocean. They float over the sea level and collect everything they come across like a C-shaped broom. The collected waste can then be scooped up and taken away. In addition, the organization has built three "litter thieves" that are deployed on rivers of world cities to prevent the waste from reaching the sea there. These Interceptors are sweeping up floating trash in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Dominican Republic.
Slat devised the hundreds of meters long sweeping arm. He developed it for his profile assignment at secondary school in Delft.
An estimated 1,800 billion pieces of garbage float in the Pacific Ocean, weighing about 80 million kilograms. The plastic soup is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and is about three times the size of France. There are also four other major waste heaps in the ocean. Together they contain another 80 million kilos of rubble and plastic.
The floating garbage dumps are getting bigger every year as millions of tons of waste flow into the sea via rivers. This waste mainly comes from the slums of Asian metropolises, where no garbage trucks go, and all the waste ends up in the rivers. According to Ocean Cleanup, 1 percent of all rivers account for 80 percent of all trash in the ocean.
Reporting by ANP