The Great Pacific Garbage Patch fully deserves its own name – this massive collection of debris stretches across hundreds of miles in the North Pacific Ocean, from the West Coast of North America to Japan. It can be divided into the Easter Garbage Patch, near Japan, and the Western Garbage Patch, between Hawaii and California. Shockingly, this enormous amount of trash, much of it non-biodegradable plastics, has grown in a relatively short period of time – the initial mass-production of plastic only began in the 1940s. It is now estimated that by the year 2050, the yearly plastic production will grow to a hundred million tons! Let us just imagine what will happen to the ocean then…
Fortunately, there are initiatives that help curb the unbelievable pollution of the Pacific. Next year, fifty floating screens will set out to clean up the Pacific! The technology is an invention of The Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch foundation started by 21-year-old Boyan Slat, which aims to deal with plastic pollution in the seas. In a newly released statement, the organization reveals that it plans to begin their clean-up of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in early 2018. They will put to use their newly redesigned cleaning system.
The plan involves releasing fifty small screens measuring 0.6 miles in length that will be weighed down with anchor, so that they can move with the currents and trap waste. This is a change to the original version of the system which made use of a single large screen tethered to the ocean floor. The new design is not only smaller but also sturdier, more effective, and cheaper.
Boyan Slat, the founder of The Ocean Cleanup, told Fast Company that the original design was expected to clean up half of the garbage patch in ten years for $320 million, while the new one will predictably cut that time in half and significantly lower the cost. The project, however, still needs to be funded. The team plans to use the collected plastic to make items for sale, like sunglasses or car bumpers.
Five years may seem like a long time to clean up a part of the patch, but it is not really so considering the sheer size of the collected waste in the area. Now, when the issue of plastic pollution of our planet is so burning and we throw into the oceans about 8.8 million tons of plastic waste a year, every step towards making a positive change for the environment, animals, and people is a huge achievement – and a victory to be celebrated.
To learn how you can produce less plastic waste, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!