A project by The Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch non-profit group, involves a supply ship towing a floating boom that corrals marine plastic with the aim of cleaning half of the infamous patch within five years. “Today we announce that our clean-up system in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has been catching plastic for the first time,” Boyan Slat, the 25-year-old Dutch CEO and founder of The Ocean Cleanup, told a press conference in Rotterdam.
“It’s the first time actually anyone harvests plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, from this giant fishing net all the way down to the micro plastic range,” he added. “So we think that we can actually clean the oceans.”
Slat came up with the idea seven years ago, drawing it on a paper napkin when he was still in high school. It seeks to use ocean currents to gather up some of the bottles, plastic bags, flip-flops and other detritus that sully the planet’s waters. The system has been undergoing tests for the past year.
The Maersk Launcher ship finally sailed from San Francisco on September 9 for trials on cleaning the patch, a floating trash pile twice the size of France that swirls in the ocean halfway between California and Hawaii.