On Aug. 11, The Ocean Cleanup reported the largest extraction from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, with 11,353 kilograms of plastic pollutants removed from the waters with the help of innovative tech.
Founded in 2013 by Boyan Slat, The Ocean Cleanup is a nonprofit environmental organization that specializes in removing plastic pollution from the oceans.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is in the North Pacific Ocean, twice the size of Texas, with tremendous pollution amounts becoming trapped in a circulating current. The organization aims to remove the floating plastic pollution from the area, which undoubtedly causes harm to crucial ecosystems, impacts human health due to bioaccumulation, and negatively changes the economy.
In an exclusive interview with BBC in February, CEO Slat explained why focusing on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is essential: “When you look at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, there are some areas that have a very high density of plastic and other areas that are virtually empty. If we are continuously cleaning up inside those hotspots, we can of course be a lot more effective in our clean-up operation.”
The technology The Ocean Cleanup utilizes is very intentional and effective. Operating a U-shaped barrier, the organization can capture plastic pollutants in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch without harming marine life.
In addition to the net-like barrier, the Ocean Cleanup also uses artificial intelligence to be successful. With AI-powered cameras, the crew can quickly inspect the ocean’s surface for plastic. As a result, the AI can lead the working team to specific zones of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch for the most successful plastic removals.
The Ocean Cleanup credits the record-breaking plastic extraction to the transition to System 03, which is bigger and more efficient than past models. While considering the cost per kilogram of plastic removal, The Ocean Cleanup created System 03 with better structural integrity and enhanced operational performance.
Other Tech Achievements by The Ocean Cleanup
The Ocean Cleanup also focuses on rivers around the globe. With most plastic pollutants entering oceans through it, the nonprofit organization sees tracking trash in rivers as efficient and crucial.
To successfully gather plastic pollutants in these bodies of water, The Ocean Cleanup uses the Interceptor Original. This tech system collects floating trash with smart processing and solar-powered mechanics. With this stated, the conveyer belt, sensors, shuttle, lights, and data transmissions are all energy neutral and have no damaging environmental impacts.
The Interceptor Original is in pollutant-dense rivers in areas like Malaysia, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, and California. Slat told BBC, “We are intercepting plastic in 11 rivers around the world, but ultimately aim to scale this to all 1,000 heaviest polluting rivers in the world.”