Clean-up to start for massive patch of garbage in Pacific
Digital News Reporter
Sunday, July 24, 2016, 1:55 PM - An alarming amount of plastic and garbage is churning through the North Pacific Ocean, killing wildlife and destroying marine ecosystems in its path.
More than 10 million tonnes of garbage swirls through all the world's oceans, flowing with diverging currents in what's been called a "trash vortex," or, alternatively, the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch." Known for being virtually impossible to clean up, these accumulation zones remained relatively untouched since their discovery in the late 1980s -- aside from research and scientific expeditions to better conclude a solution.
Now, for the first time ever, an effort to clean up the millions of square kilometres that make up the trash vortex is underway.
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A prototype ocean cleaning system, developed by a Dutch organization, has been released in off the coast of the Netherlands in the North Sea, ABC News reports.
The Ocean Cleanup -- the CEO of which founded the organization at 17 years old -- is self-described as "the first feasible method to clean up the world's ocean garbage patches." The project uses a floating barrier to capture "virtually any type of debris," operating on rotational currents. The barriers use a screen rather than a net to catch garbage, allowing marine wildlife to pass underneath along the current without getting trapped.
The organization's site notes that over the course of ten years, a single 100 km stretch of "artificial coastline" can grab nearly half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Their mission is to achieve the largest ocean clean-up in history.
The prototype's objective is not to see how much garbage can be caught, but rather if the technology can withstand the rough currents in the North Sea, CEO Boyan Slat told ABC News.
The final clean-up is expected to begin by 2020.
Thumbnail image courtesy of NOAA, Wikimedia Commons.