We covered the excited effort of Boyan Slat, the 24-year old prodigy who began the Ocean Cleanup as a way to reduce the harm done by the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It’s one of the most large-scale environmental clean up efforts we’ve seen in this generation and Business Insider reports that the first efforts are underway.
On Saturday, Slat's organization began the journey out to sea with its first official 2,000-foot-long plastic cleaning array, System 001. A ship called the Maersk Launcher towed the device through the San Francisco Bay out under the Golden Gate Bridge, en route to a final testing site. If everything goes well, it'll head to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where the cleanup crew hopes the first system will be able to collect 50 tons of plastic in its first year.
Slat and colleagues hope The Ocean Cleanup's plastic-collecting arrays can help at least remove large debris from these swirling vortexes. They say their models show that with a full deployment of 60 arrays, they could be able to remove half of the garbage-patch region's plastic within five years.
This effort certainly has its work cut out for it. 8 million metric tons of garbage are dumped into the ocean every year. The technology isn’t proven, but it’s a ray of hope. So here’s hoping that we start seeing a reversal to the catastrophic damage human society has done to the world’s ocean.