The Pacific Ocean has long been home to that huge plastic garbage patch, but one organization — with the help of some funding from the tech world — is preparing to launch a solution.
According to Huffington Post Tech, the group Ocean Cleanup has plans to build a V-shaped, 62-mile-long wall to trap and collect plastic for recycling. The org calls it “the largest clean up in history,” and it will largely be funded by “entrepreneurs like Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff,” HuffPo reports.
How will it work? Ocean Cleanup plans to install the wall between Hawaii and California. The large wall, made of a series of nets, will collect plastic and funnel it toward the center of the structure, where it will be picked up for recycling.
Ocean Cleanup reports that it just concluded a “mega-expedition” to explore the great garbage patch and help prepare for the 2020 deployment of the plastic-collecting wall. Researchers used several measurement techniques, a smartphone app, and a fleet of nearly 30 vessels to sample the area. Previous estimates of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch have run the gamut, from the “conservative” size of Texas to twice the size of the United States.
Ocean Cleanup discovered that “preliminary findings indicate a higher-than-expected volume of large plastic objects floating in the ocean,” including large old fishing nets and Japanese tsunami debris.
“The amount of large stuff really was a surprise,” Ocean Cleanup founder Boyan Slat told HuffPo. “It was a lot more big stuff than small stuff by a factor of 100 or 1,000. Some is still to be analyzed, but it’s clear there’s a lot more plastic out there than expected.”
The org’s major concern is to prevent these large pieces from breaking down into more dangerous microplastics, which would be much harder to clean up and are consumed by marine life, which in turn, are eaten by us.
Watch a talk from Ocean Cleanup’s founder Slat in NYC below, who shares that while diving in Greece, he came “across more plastic bags than fish”: