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Menopausal Mother Nature

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Recycling

20,000 Pounds of Trash Removed From Pacific Garbage Patch: ‘Holy mother of god. It worked!’


The Ocean Cleanup

“The Great Pacific Garbage Patch can now be cleaned,” announced Dutch entrepreneur Boyan Slat, the wonderkid inventor who’s spent a decade inventing systems for waterborne litter collection.

Recent tests on his Ocean Cleanup rig called System 002, invented to tackle the 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic pollution, were a success, leading Slat to predict that most of the oceanic garbage patches could be removed by 2040.

Intersections of ocean currents have created the massive floating islands of plastic trash—five slow-moving whirlpools that pull litter from thousands of miles away into a single radius.

The largest one sits between California and Hawaii, and 27-year-old Slat has been designing and testing his systems out there, launching from San Francisco since 2013.

GNN has reported on his original design for the floating device, but his engineering team improved upon it. System 002, nicknamed “Jenny,” successfully netted 9,000 kilograms, or around 20,000 pounds in its first trial.

It’s carbon-neutral, able to capture microplastics as small as 1 millimeter in diameter, and was designed to pose absolutely no threat to wildlife thanks to its wide capture area, slow motion, alerts, and camera monitors that allow operators to spy any overly-curious marine life.

MORE: UPDATE: Plant Opens to Change the Recycling Game by Breaking Down Plastic Bottles With Enzyme From Leaves

Jenny consists of two boats dragging a very long net in a U-shape behind them.

The Ocean Cleanup

They use computational modeling to predict where and at what speed the movements in the water will be shifting the plastic. They then fill up their net, pull it on board, and bring it ashore for recycling.

The team are also turning some of the trash they collect into designer sunglasses—and earnings from the stylish shades will go toward helping support the nonprofit so they can continue cleaning up the ocean. The new glasses are the first product to be created from the recovered ocean debris—but they say it will not be the last.

The Ocean Cleanup

A timeline of hope

Slat estimates ten Jennies could clean half the garbage patch in five years, and if 10 Jennies were deployed to the five major ocean gyres, then 90% of all floating plastic could be removed by 2040.

There are obvious challenges, like the fact that millions of pieces of plastic flow into the oceans every year, and that investors may believe river cleanup is easier, cheaper, and doesn’t require the use of fossil fuels to power the boats.

And that’s why Slat’s nonprofit has also launched a number of ‘interceptor’ barges to clean up polluting rivers, intercepting plastic before it reaches the ocean.

The Ocean Cleanup

Nevertheless—this is a huge breakthrough in the cleanup of ocean plastics, and one worth celebrating.

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