The World’s Largest Ocean Cleanup Has Officially Begun

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Tom Percival | UNILAD

Every year over 12 million tonnes of plastics enter into our oceans which causes untold damage to sea life and the ecosystem as a whole. 

In the Pacific Ocean alone there are an estimated 80,000 tonnes of plastic most of which is concentrated within the Great Pacific Garbage Patch; a huge island of plastic floating in the middle of the ocean.

Thankfully the Ocean Cleanup, a foundation that develops technologies to extract plastic pollution, may have a solution to this rubbish problem.

According to Forbes, the organisation has deployed a $20 million system which is designed to clean up the 1.8 trillion pieces of garbage currently floating in the Pacific.

Using a system of floating booms, they estimate they’ll be able to trap and collect over half the plastic in the ocean in the first five years of deployment.

The booms were deployed from San Francisco Bay on Saturday with each one capable of trapping up to 150,000 pounds of plastic a year as they float between California and Hawaii.

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The system, which comprises of inflatable booms with 10 feet of netting below it, will be towed out 1,400 miles around mid-October to the Garbage Patch where it’s hoped it will begin collecting plastic.

It’s thought the booms will create a U shaped formation which will trap smaller plastic fragments in its netting while allowing fish to swim under it.

The Ocean Clean Up

When a boom and its net become full, a boat will come and collect the plastic before sending it off for recycling. If you’re wondering how fish will avoid the net, that’s something researchers are wondering too as the system’s never been tested on open water.

A clean up on this scale’s never been attempted before and researchers are hopeful that it will provide a solution to the problem of oceanic plastic pollution.

While you might not think ocean plastics represent a very serious problem for the ecosystem and humanity.

Every year thousands of sea creatures and birds die after attempting to eat plastics and smaller microplastics have started to enter into the food chain.

YouTube/Iceland

While that may not sound too concerning a number of the chemicals associated with microplastics such as phthalate and bisphenol are carcinogenic, meaning they cause cancer, and they are entering the food chain.

According to the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs, while more research is required, they believe that the presence of marine microplastics in seafood could pose a threat to food safety.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is one of the biggest concentrated areas of plastic debris in the world’s oceans and is believed to have formed gradually as a result of plastics gathered by ocean currents.

There is an estimated 80,000 metric tonnes of plastic in the patch, made up of 1.8 trillion pieces the majority of which are suspended just beneath the surface of the water.

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