The $20 million Ocean Cleanup system designed to clean up the 1.8 trillion pieces of trash floating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Designed by the nonprofit Ocean Cleanup, which was founded in 2013 by the then 18-year-old Dutch inventor Boyan Slat. Their mission is to develop “advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.” is now ready to start.

After several years and design change, the latest design was tested in San Francisco in September and has now been towed to the heart of the world’s largest accumulation zone of ocean plastics, situated halfway between Hawaii and California.

The Dutch foundation informed on Twitter that the crew successfully put the system in its designated U-shape in order to be able to start collecting plastics.

The Ocean Cleanup estimates the first plastic could be collected and returned to land within 6 months. Once successful, and if the funding is available, the organization aims to scale up to a fleet of approximately 60 booms focused on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch over the next two years.

Comprised of a 600-meter-long U-shaped floating barrier with a three-meter (10 feet) skirt attached below each boom t to collect smaller fragments of plastic. Once the boom is full, a vessel will come to collect the plastic and transport it to land for recycling. Each boom is expected to trap up to 150,000 pounds (68 tons) of plastic per year. 

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a vortex of trash created from an ocean gyre in the central North Pacific. The trash vortex was discovered in the mid-1980s and lies halfway between Hawaii and California.

noaa great pacific garbage patch map
Location of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the subtropical convergence zone. C. NOAA

The garbage patch is so large, it is easily detectable from space via satellites and covers roughly 1.6 million square kilometers and 1.8 trillion pieces of debris.

The team published a small video on twitter about the installation called System 001, for being the first prototype to be deployed. As the technology remain unproven in the open ocean, the team will monitor and continue to refine the systems to be more efficient and less disruptive to ocean ecosystems. A major concern being the nets used to capture the plastic may also trap and kill marine life.

So now, we wait and hope that the Ocean Cleanup will be as successful as Elon Musk’s Rockets.

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