The Ocean Cleanup's System 03 Collects Plastic Pollution at Record Levels
The Ocean Cleanup's System 03 Collects Plastic Pollution at Record Levels
8:53

The Ocean Cleanup's System 03 Collects Plastic Pollution at Record Levels

Tech
Speaker 1: The ocean cleanup is back in action with its largest and most ambitious ocean cleanup system. Oh three system oh three is massive, spanning a length of 2.5 kilometers across and is currently capturing floating plastic pollution in the Great Pacific Garbage patch located between the states of California and Hawaii. I spoke with the Ocean Cleanup's, CEO Boy and Slat about their newest cleanup system, how it works, and got a progress report on the current mission. Speaker 2: [00:00:30] Our cleanup system is comprised out of two parts. So one hand you have the hardware, the actual physical system that's out there in the ocean, and then secondly, you have the software, which are the computer models that guide us where and how we tow the system through the patch. So on the hardware side, we have this two and a half kilometer U-shaped barrier that is towed by two ships, which funnels the plastic from the ocean surface was into a collection bag we call [00:01:00] the retention zone. It looks very small, but actually it's five times the length of a school bus, so it's a big bag where then the plastic gets retained and then productively. Once that's full, we take that retention zone on the deck of one of the ships and empty it and then return it to the sea so we can keep collecting while we do the sorting on the ship. The main thing that's changed with system three is the size. The ocean is a pretty big place, so if we want to clean up the Great Pacific [00:01:30] Garbage patch, which is twice the size of Texas, we need to cover a very large area per unit of time. Right? So now with system three, it's three times the span. So what that means is that we can actually sweep an area the size of a football field every five seconds. Speaker 2: Actually, since we started with system two in 2021, we've seen a steady increase in the amount of chip we've had. So the first expedition we did, we caught I think about seven tons of plastic [00:02:00] and late 2023. So two years later we went up to 45 tons in a single trip, and this year we hope to do even better than that. The magical number that we're aiming for is a hundred kilos per hour. If we hit that with a decently sized fleet of cleanup systems, we can actually clean up the patch within 10 years. Sure, of course. Beyond that, we still want to go even higher. You want to get to 200 kilos, 300 kilos, et cetera, but at least a hundred per hour mark. [00:02:30] That really puts us in the realm of, Hey, we're ready enough to start. The scale up Speaker 1: System oh three has added some new upgrades, enhancing marine life safety concerns and expanding the amount of plastic pollution they can collect. During a deployment, we Speaker 2: Increased the depth and the height of the system to avoid any plastic leakage over or under the system. We also introduced 16 cameras and we call a marine animal safety hedge, [00:03:00] which if we see anything that's going in the system, we can activate that remotely and we can trigger an inflatable bellow to fill up and go to the surface. And with that, open an escape route. We do move slowly to at about half your walking speed, to essentially give fish and other marine life the time to swim away, get out of the way to just introduce another level of safety. Speaker 1: The ocean cleanup crew consists of more than 40 personnel, including contractors [00:03:30] from Mayor Marine, and the ocean cleanup employees aboard two large vessels equipped with a few smaller support vessels. A cleanup mission currently takes seven weeks to complete in the spring and summer months because winter weather is too dangerous and volatile for such a large scale operation. The ocean cleanup utilizes satellite data and marine scientists to best predict where to find and capture the highest amount of plastic accumulation. Speaker 2: We have the computer models [00:04:00] that are fed by satellite data by measurements that we've taken over the years of where the plastic is. And with that, we built these advanced we computer models that are almost like a weather forecast for plastic. So it'll tell us and the captains of the ships days in advance what the ideal coordinates are and what the ideal path is they would have to follow. And that's I think, really the special sauce of the cleanup because without [00:04:30] it, you were to just randomly go through the ocean. It would take a long time. So really specifically targeting those hotspots where you have these very high density areas. So that is the key to effectively cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Speaker 1: Patch. These calculations help to maximize the cleanup while system O three doubles as a weather and data collection platform, bringing back valuable information to help study the conditions in the Pacific Ocean. As the plastic pollution is collected onboard the ship, it's then separated by the [00:05:00] crew into different categories such as ropes and nets and larger solid pieces. The plastic pollution is brought back to shore and processed and recycled by local recycling organizations. Some of the plastic is pelletized to be reused and remade into new products. Boyan announced that the automaker Kia will be getting into the reclaim plastic game, and we'll work with the ocean cleanup to use the recycled plastic in the production of future automobiles. Speaker 2: A couple of years ago, we launched the sunglasses, [00:05:30] which were really of a proof of concept to show that, hey, we can make something beautiful and desirable from this, basically the worst waste on earth. Since then, we have partnered with Kia the car company to turn this material into parts for their electric cars. We'll have an announcement about that later this year. We are in conversations with the other global brands to also bring them on board with the cleanup and with that, [00:06:00] find a suitable home for all the plastic ones. It's taken out of the ocean. Speaker 1: The Kia thing is very cool. I love that. My wife has a Kia. That's fantastic. The oceans are not the only focus of the ocean cleanup organization. Every year, heavy rains wash debris from city streets into storm drains, which eventually finds its way into larger waterways and into the ocean. The ocean cleanup has been deploying a number of river interceptors all over the world with the goal of cutting off the flow of plastic pollution [00:06:30] before it can reach the open ocean. There are a bunch of different types of interceptor technologies being put to use with an ultimate goal of installing 1000 interceptor barriers along the highest known polluting rivers on the planet. The ocean cleanup's most recent interceptor, interceptor 19 was installed in Bangkok, Thailand and is now operational. A few Speaker 2: Ago we started out with not just cleaning up the plastic that's already in the ocean, but also intercepting plastic in rivers before it reaches the oceans, because [00:07:00] what we found was that just 1% of the world's rivers is responsible for about 80% of all the plastic that flows into the ocean. So by intercepting it in those rivers, we believe that's the fastest, the most cost-effective way to prevent plastic from leaking into the ocean. Literally just a few weeks ago, we deployed in Bangkok in the Chow Prya River, which is this massive, iconic river running through all of Bangkok. It is part of the 1% most polluting rivers, and I think what's unique about this [00:07:30] river is its width for us beyond just the direct impact that we're having for Bangkok and for the Gulf of Thailand. This was for us also unique learning opportunity because the conditions are just very challenging. Bangkok is now providing us the learnings we need because we're going to see more rivers like this in the future. Speaker 1: I myself got to check out interceptor oh oh seven located in Los Angeles, California on a sailing trip with my brother-in-Law. We got as close as we could [00:08:00] so I can snap some photos of the interceptor, and I can tell you firsthand that the water's downstream of oh oh seven, our clean and pristine, which was awesome to see. You can get involved with the ocean cleanup by donating to the ocean cleanup organization, or simply by talking about it to raise awareness or by contacting your local officials to let them know that we need solutions like these for tackling the plastic pollution problem. If we really care about having clean beaches, coastlines, and protecting wildlife, we need to keep the pressure on our elected officials [00:08:30] to take action. The ocean cleanup has proven that it can be done and they're actually doing something about it which will only benefit mankind and our environment. If you like this video, give us a like and subscribe to C Net's massive YouTube channel, and check out my past coverage of the ocean cleanup interceptors, which are autonomously pulling floating debris out of rivers across the planet right now. And thanks for watching cnet.

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The Ocean Cleanup's System 03 Collects Plastic Pollution at Record Levels
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