The ultimate solution to ocean waste? Ingenious ‘floating sheet’ set to remove plastic from the Pacific




A 100m prototype has been launched today in a bid to clean up the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’

Around eight million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean every year damaging marine life.

However in a bid to combat plastic pollution, a non-profit Dutch foundation, has launched the first ever ocean cleanup prototype to be tested at sea.

The concept behind the innovative design, is to use a 100-kilometer-long plastic screen to catch floating rubbish . By employing a solid sheet that is only 2m deep instead of nets, it will allow sea life to pass safely underneath it.


The smaller 100m prototype was launched in the North Sea

The long floating barriers are moored in the middle to the sea bed causing it to form a flat V-shape.

Acting as an artificial coastline, the net passively catches tons of bottles, bags, fishing nets and other rubbish in the center of the V.

Here a central collection point extracts the debris, which then gets shipped to land and recycled. The Ocean Cleanup aims to make the operation self-sustainable by monetising the extracted plastic through recycling.

The system is powered by the ocean’s natural currents, with the foundation claiming that a single 100km installation could potentially catch almost half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a particularly polluted section of ocean – in 10 year’s time.


Rubbish: There are five giant rubbish dumps afloat in the Pacific (YouTube/Lucy Barnett)

The much smaller 100-meter prototype was installed today in the North Sea off the Dutch coast. It will be closely monitored over the next year to see how it fares in extreme weather conditions.

The idea is that the flexible sheet will move with the waves, ensuring that the structure will be able to survive even the most extreme conditions.


The Ocean Cleanup is founded by Dutchman Boyan Slat

If the trial is successful, the next stage will be to launch a full-scale, 100-kilometer-long version between Hawaii and the US in 2020.

Known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, currents have collected rubbish together into a revolving spiral that equates to the size of Texas.

Boyan Slat, CEO and founder of The Ocean Cleanup, said: “This is a historic day on the path toward clean oceans.

“A successful outcome of this test should put us on track to deploy the first operational pilot system in late 2017.”
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