The Ocean Cleanup successfully begins collecting plastic in the Pacific

In the midst of the rolling pacific ocean, there sits what’s called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a growing collection of plastic and refuse that, at present gauge, is around three times larger than the size of France.

While horrific, this island of trash itself is perhaps only the largest example of a growing problem as refuse and plastics (and eventually, microplastics) filter into our oceans, daily.

To tackle this problem, The Ocean Cleanup – a Dutch firm – has invented an innovative solution in the form of the (frankly, uninspiringly-named) System 00/1b – a collection of a boom array, research vessel, and parachute anchor which at long last is now confirmed to be collecting plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

You might have heard of the concept before – System 00/1b has been discussed before in the media, but up until now hasn’t successfully performed its task. Given the tumultuous waves of the Pacific Ocean, the system itself has been left bereft when its boom system failed to cohesively collect plastic, and later when it was found that without an anchor, the system moved erratically and failed to work as a whole.

Now, the company’s founder, Boran Slat, has confirmed that the array is working, and estimated to collect plastic by the ton. The news is welcome amidst a growing wave of awareness and action surrounding climate change, and the goal for the system is inspiringly lofty – to collect and recycle around half of the Great Garbage Patch itself.

System 00/1b won’t work in isolation – it’s estimated that nothing less than a left of the arrays will suffice to begin scouring the ocean of plastic, and even then, the system is only designed to collate refuse on the service. Refreshingly, however, the device has been confirmed to have collected microplastics sitting above the water’s surface.

The Ocean Cleanup intends to recycle what debris it can, and use that income to fuel future waste-collection efforts.