Dutch aerospace engineering drop-out student turned entrepreneur Boyan Slat's Ocean Cleanup multi-million dollar project launched its first full-scale system on September 8th, with the goal of reducing the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by half in five years.
The Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization founded in 2013 by the 24-year-old innovator, plans to remove plastic debris from the "floating" island of trash now famously known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Located in the North Pacific Ocean, the patch stretches 600,000 square miles between California and Hawaii, is more than three times the size of Spain and more than twice the size of Turkey or Texas, according to Business Insider. That’s just one of five major garbage patches that plague the world’s oceans and marine life and is responsible for countless animal deaths.
After almost six years of testing and research, Slat's foundation The Ocean Cleanup was finally ready to launch its beta cleanup system, a 600-meter (almost 2,000-foot) long floater that can collect about five tons of ocean plastic per month. It has a 10-foot tapered skirt attached to it that stops debris from escaping.
This massive cleanup of plastic in the Pacific Ocean, will begin by way of Alameda, California. A Maersk Launcher vessel recently towed System 001 - which has been named "Wilson" in reference to the famous volleyball from Tom Hanks-led blockbuster Cast Away - out past Alcatraz, under the Golden Gate Bridge and into the Pacific Ocean.
The system is carried along naturally by water currents, and as the tube curves, it accumulates all the garbage in the center for easy removal. A vessel will retrieve the trash every few months and bring it to land to turn it into merchandise. This has proved effective in testing and now that Wilson has passed its last seaworthiness tests with flying colors, it is ready to gobble up all the garbage on its way.
Want to watch Wilson at work and cheer him on? Well, The Ocean Cleanup live streamed the system launch on its website starting at 12 pm PDT / 3 pm EDT / 9 pm CEST on September 8th, 2018. For those who missed it, the footage is available online!