Ocean Cleanup System Deployed to Great Pacific Garbage Patch
An ocean cleanup system deployed this month from San Francisco to a location 240 nmi off the Pacific coast for testing before it continues to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to perform the first large-scale plastic pollution cleanup effort. The cleanup system is the result of years of research, testing and technology prototypes. It comprises a 3-m skirt attached to a 600-m, U-shaped floating barrier to skim the water surface and catch plastic debris.
The technology involved in the system, called System 001, was developed by the Dutch nonprofit, The Ocean Cleanup. In addition to performing plastic debris removal, the system is equipped to provide monitoring data that will help improve subsequent deployments. According to The Ocean Cleanup, the system includes “solar-powered and satellite-connected sensors, cameras and navigation lights to communicate the position of System 001 to passing marine traffic.”
The vessel Maersk Launcher, owned by A.P. Moller-Maersk and under charter by DeepGreen, is towing the plastic cleanup system. After the first collection of plastic debris, it will return within six months. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a giant gyre full of plastic pollution 1,200 nmi offshore located halfway between Hawaii and California. It is estimated to be 1.6 million km wide—twice the size of the state of Texas. According to The Ocean Cleanup, an estimated 1.15 to 2.41 million tons of plastic enter the oceans every year.