The problem is clear: The world's oceans are clogged with plastic debris that threatens ecosystems and wildlife. The Ocean Cleanup is testing new ways to collect and remove plastic from the ocean, and it showed off its junk haul in a livestream from Vancouver on Thursday.
The nonprofit organization displayed a collection of 60 large bags full of plastic culled by its floating trash-collection system from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The haul represents the results of the experimental Mission One, The Ocean Cleanup's first major collection effort.
"It's complete garbage," said founder Boyan Slat during the livestream. Slat laid out the plans for the plastic, which will involve recycling it into "beautiful, sustainable products." Proceeds from sales of these items will go into continuing the efforts of The Ocean Cleanup. Details on the products will be released later.
A ship gathers the junk collected in the ocean and workers sort, dry, weigh and tag the debris.
The Ocean Cleanup system hit some snags during its first deployment. At one point, concerns about the system accidentally catching sea life along with plastic and debris., but the group made adjustments to fix the problem. Some scientists have raised
Today's update gave the public a look at what The Ocean Cleanup has been up to. Slat has an ambitious goal of cleaning up 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within five years, but his group would need to deploy a fleet of debris-catching devices to do this.
A second generation of the system is now under development, but we can start looking for products made from the Garbage Patch in late 2020. We'll just have to make sure those new items don't end up in the water.
Originally published Dec. 12, 12:29 p.m. PT.