The Pacific Ocean has a pollution problem. It's especially apparent at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a 1-million-square-mile stretch of water between California and Hawaii churning with up to 2.65 million tons of plastic waste. Now, after five years in development, an initiative aimed at reducing the floating trash heap is finally ready to launch.
As Forbes reports, the main tool that The Ocean Cleanup project is using to combat pollution is a 2000-foot floating net. The unit, dubbed System 001, will serve multiple functions. The floater sits on the water's surface, collecting any trash that bobs its way, while the 10-foot skirt that extends into the water blocks any waste from flowing beneath it. To catch as much garbage as possible, the net will need to be emptied every four to six weeks. As it collects debris, System 001 will also be able to collect data on climate and wave patterns.
System 001 is the beta version of The Ocean Cleanup's ultimate vision for the initiative. After monitoring the system's performance, the group plans to improve on the design and launch a fleet of 60 additional floaters in early 2020. With the project, The Ocean Cleanup hopes to shrink the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by 50 percent in five years, and by 90 percent by 2040.
Similar sea skimmers have been developed in the past, like the Waste Shark, which works like a Roomba for the ocean, and the Seabin, which more closely resembles a floating trashcan. System 001 differs in that it's designed to clean up ocean waste on a much larger scale. The Ocean Cleanup will launch the rig on Saturday, September 8.