Artist's impression of how the Tsushima Island array would look. When deployed in 2016 the 2000 meter long array would become the world's longest floating structure.
Seoul - Dutch-registered nonprofit, The Ocean Cleanup, today announced that the world’s first system to passively clean up plastic pollution from the oceans will be deployed next year.
When the system, which uses floating barriers to collect plastic debris and lets ocean currents do most of the collection work, is deployed it will become the longest floating structure in history. The novel idea works on the basis that, rather than attempt to collect the plastic swirling about in the seas, a series of arrays or floating barriers means the ocean currents do the collection work. Once plastic debris has accumulated at these barriers, it can be systematically collected for safe disposal or processing later.
“Taking care of the world’s ocean garbage problem is one of the largest environmental challenges mankind faces today. Not only will this first cleanup array contribute to cleaner waters and coasts, but it simultaneously is an essential step towards our goal of cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This deployment will enable us to study the system’s efficiency and durability over time,” said Slat.
The Ocean Cleanup’s goal is to develop technologies to extract, prevent and intercept plastic pollution, in the process accelerating the fight against ocean plastic pollution, the worst example of which is the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch. If Ocean Cleanup’s plans come to fruition it would be the largest cleanup the world has ever seen.
Following publication of The Ocean Cleanup’s results of its year-long study into the feasibility of large-scale, passive and efficient removal of plastic pollution from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the organization was able to raise over $2 million from 38,000 contributors, spread across 160 countries, in a successful non-profit crowd funding campaign.
In November 2014, when he was just 19, Slat received the United Nations’ highest environmental accolade from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. This Dutch rising star has also been recognised by Intel EYE50 as one of the 20 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs Worldwide.
The Ocean Cleanup array should be rolled out in the second quarter of 2016, assuming successful completion of a feasibility study currently being conducted for deployment of the anti-pollution system off the coast of Tsushima, an island situated in the Korean strait between Japan and South Korea. Initially, Ocean Cleanup’s system will span 2,000 meters, making it the world’s longest floating structure.
The current record — 1,000 meters — is held by the Tokyo Mega-Float. The Tsushima array is projected to be operational for at least two years. During this time it will trap plastic pollution which would otherwise be washed up along the coastline of Tsushima Island. Tsushima Island receives a colossal amount of unwelcome plastic pollution. Every year, for every person on the island (pop. 39,716) about one cubic meter of plastic waste is deposited along the island’s shores.
Local government authorities on Tsushima are looking at a number of innovative solutions to what has become a perennial problem one of which might see the waste plastic recovered by The Ocean Cleanup’s array being used as an alternative energy source.
Next year’s deployment of the Tsushima array would represent an important milestone in The Ocean Cleanup’s aim of removing plastic pollution from the world’s oceans. But the Tsushima array, large as it is, would be dwarfed when the organization gets to work on its biggest task, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Within five years, after a series of deployments of increasing scale, The Ocean Cleanup has ambitious plans to put in place a 100 kilometer long system, located between Hawaii and California, to clean up roughly half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, between Hawaii and California.
According to The Ocean Cleanup’s computer modeling, by using a single system of this nature, it would be possible to remove almost half the detritus from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in ten years.