Environment

Ocean Cleanup hauls its first batch of plastic trash back to shore

Ocean Cleanup hauls its first ...
The Ocean Cleanup says the profits from its recycled plastic products will be used to fund its ongoing cleanup operations
The Ocean Cleanup says the profits from its recycled plastic products will be used to fund its ongoing cleanup operations
View 6 Images
The Ocean Cleanup is now calling a successful end to its first mission to collect a batch of plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
1/6
The Ocean Cleanup is now calling a successful end to its first mission to collect a batch of plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
The Ocean Cleanup first took to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in October last year
2/6
The Ocean Cleanup first took to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in October last year
Recycling the plastic it recovered for use in plastic goods was always part of the Ocean Cleanup project's vision
3/6
Recycling the plastic it recovered for use in plastic goods was always part of the Ocean Cleanup project's vision
The Ocean Cleanup says the profits from its recycled plastic products will be used to fund its ongoing cleanup operations
4/6
The Ocean Cleanup says the profits from its recycled plastic products will be used to fund its ongoing cleanup operations
Plastic recovered by the Ocean Cleanup project includes huge ghost nets and microplastics as small as a millimeter in size
5/6
Plastic recovered by the Ocean Cleanup project includes huge ghost nets and microplastics as small as a millimeter in size
The Ocean Cleanup project plans to begin selling its recycled plastic products in September 2020
6/6
The Ocean Cleanup project plans to begin selling its recycled plastic products in September 2020
View gallery - 6 images

It hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing, but The Ocean Cleanup is now calling an end to a first successful mission to collect plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, today showing off the pile of trash on the shores of Vancouver. The organization now plans to repurpose the recovered rubbish as plastic goods, with the profits to be funneled back into its cleanup operations, and preparations are already underway for its second-generation system.

The Ocean Cleanup first took to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in October last year with the intention of collecting plastic waste with its huge floating booms. The system ruptured and had to be brought in for some repairs in January, before it was redesigned and redeployed mid-year. The team confirmed the barriers were successfully gathering trash in October.

Plastic recovered by the Ocean Cleanup project includes huge ghost nets and microplastics as small as a millimeter in size
Plastic recovered by the Ocean Cleanup project includes huge ghost nets and microplastics as small as a millimeter in size

The first proper foray into passive collection of ocean trash is now complete, with the team hauling the fruits of its labor back to base. The catch includes huge ghost nets and microplastics as small as a millimeter in size.

Recycling the plastic it recovered for use in plastic goods was always part of the team’s vision, and today it has expanded a little on these plans. It says this will be the first time that products will be made entirely out of ocean plastics, so the manufacturing process is likely to be tricky. In any case, if all goes relatively smoothly, it plans to use the trash to make “attractive, sustainable” products and begin selling them in September 2020.

Recycling the plastic it recovered for use in plastic goods was always part of the Ocean Cleanup project's vision
Recycling the plastic it recovered for use in plastic goods was always part of the Ocean Cleanup project's vision

“Welcoming the first catch of plastic on land is the moment we have been looking forward to for years,” says Ocean Cleanup CEO Boyan Slat. “I believe we can use this trash to turn a problem into a solution by transforming this unique material into a beautiful product. As most people will never go to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, through these products, we aim to give everyone the opportunity to take part in the cleanup.”

The Ocean Cleanup says the profits from these products will be used to fund its ongoing cleanup operations. With this first mission a success, it is already working on building and deploying an even larger version of its trash-catching booms, System 002. This will be full-scale, able to collect more trash and hold it more securely.

Source: The Ocean Cleanup

View gallery - 6 images
35 comments
aki009
Is that it? That's all the plastic they gathered?? Spending all that effort for that small amount of recovered material is insane. Three guys could've collected that much stuff out of most streams and rivers in Asia in one afternoon _by_ _hand_.
Vivian Vaillant
@aki009 it is true that people could be collecting this amount of plastic from oceans and dreams _by__hand_ however the sad reality is that over the years we haven't bothered. This has left a giant problem in our oceans that will take innovative thought and a lifetime of commitment. If you've been following, this first batch is still just from a prototype. Once the prototype is working they can make hundreds more and it will be through this innovation and careful planning that we see real results in the hardest places we've polluted. I love the idea of you going out with two friends to collect this much from the places we can reach! We need that too. When you've collected some ocean plastic please share pictures so we can be proud of you too! In the meantime, unless you'd like to get onboard and dedicate some time to creating a better solution (I'm sure Boyan would love to hear any ideas) it isn't helpful to hear discouraging comments from the peanut gallery.
NAReader21
Disappointing use of resources wasted on such a small amount of reclaimed material. Carbon emissions from this project must far outweigh and negligible positive impact.
Worzel
Regrettably, there may be vastly more waterlogged plastic, on the sea bed, which is impossible to collect, but bottom feeding fish will still ingest it and die, and maybe poison other creatures who eat them in turn. Prevention is always better than cure, so really, the only solution is to fine governments millions, when it can be proven that plastic waste came from their country. That is the only way to encourage them to do whats needed to control their populations dirty habits. It would be educational to identify how much is commercial waste, ie from merchant ships, fishing boats, etc, and how much is from non-commercial sources. Then, maybe shipping companies can be targeted with fines as well. The efforts of ''The Ocean Cleanup'' are commendable, but compared to the vast numbers of delinquents, chucking their garbage into water ways, merely a 'drop in the Ocean!'
Colt12
Good start to a hopefully successful venture. It will be great to see the mountains worth of plastic collected as this matures.
Randy Weiss
New Atlas Writers: Either: 1) mention the WEIGHT of plastics removed in this effort or 2) Mention WHY you can't mention the weight, such as 'Ocean-Cleanup' didn't or wouldn't say. ALSO either: 3) Mention the *COST* of this excursion or 4) Say you don't know, or can't find out the cost.
Austin Heffernan
Certainly that can't be all of it... where are the photos of the piles of trash unloaded?
BJanks
I think it would have been helpful for the article to actually quantify how much plastic this project was able collect in the last year, even in this prototype phase (in pounds, or tons, or full 20 foot containers worth). I am hopeful that the few photos shown don't do justice to the overall cleanup completed thus far, but am curious to know if I am wrong. Now if we can only find a way to get the world to stop using and producing more plastics...
genegough
My thoughts were along the line as aki009’s when I looked at the photo. We can only hope that they are many magnitudes more successful and soon or it will be a tremendous waste. I was expecting a much, much larger pile!
buzzclick
Oh pulease, we can't tell if that partially-filled container is a 20 or 40 foot, but regardless, it it miniscule compared to the plastic waste that ends up needlessly in land fills and bodies water. Still, it's in our oceans, so it is crucial. So how are they going to produce marketable plastic products that are made from 6 or 7 different polymers? Methinks this is pretentious posturing to appease the sensibilities of the greenies for media consumption. There are way more things to be done in this effort before it can be considered viable, so please don't spend thousands of dollars in fuel and use million dollars of equipment to pretend that selling plastic products will pay for all this. The final cost should be borne on the companies that use plastic products carelessly and excessively by convincing us that over consumption is a good thing.