A trash collection device is being deployed to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in an attempt to clean up the world’s largest garbage site. The system will be used to corral plastic litter in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii. The ship the Maersk Launcher towed the device through the San Francisco Bay out under the Golden Gate Bridge on Saturday.
The trash collection system was created by The Ocean Cleanup. The organization was founded by Boyan Slat, a 24-year-old from the Netherlands. The Ocean Cleanup raised $35 million in donations to fund the project. The organization has been working on the project for the past five years.
It is estimated that 9 million tons of plastic waste enter the ocean annually. Much of this trash is eventually carried by currents into concentrated areas in one of five massive ocean regions. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an island of trash twice the size of Texas.
The cleanup system is fitted with solar power lights, cameras, and sensors. The 2,000-foot long floating boom is made of plastic with a tapered 10-foot deep screen, allowing marine life to safely swim beneath it. A boat carrying experienced marine biologists will be deployed to make sure the device is not harming wildlife.
The barrier is made to withstand harsh weather conditions and constant wear and tear. Its u-shape is meant to function like an artificial coastline, funneling the trash to a central collection point. The scientists say the system will communicate its position at all times using satellite antennas. A support vessel will come to pick up the collected plastic every few months and transport it to shore where it will be recycled.
This is the first time a full size array will be assembled and functioning in the Pacific. The ultimate goal is to deploy 60 free-floating barriers in the Pacific Ocean by 2020. They are expected to last in the water for about two decades.