Crowd-funded clean-up boom set to tackle Ocean’s plastic problem

Crowd-funded clean-up boom set to tackle Ocean’s plastic problem

A 100m-long barrier that collects rubbish on the sea’s surface is being tested. If successful, it could be deployed at much larger scales to tackle the ‘great Pacific garbage patch’.

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Today a prototype barrier, which stretches over 100m, was towed 12 miles out to sea for the start of a year of sensor tests. This is the first step before it can then be scaled up for wider testing off the Japanese coast in 2017.

The goal of the project is to clear the “great Pacific garbage patch”. If tests prove successful then the “The Ocean Cleanup” plans to deploy a 60m-long version in 2022 between California and Hawaii. Ambitiously, the project hopes to capture at least half of the Pacific garbage by 2030.

What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

How it Works

The barrier works by using sea currents to passively guide rubbish in surface waters into a V-shaped cone which can then be periodically collected and emptied. A cable anchors the boom in place, in depths up to 3miles, so it can trap the rubbish for periodic collection by boats

“The Ocean Cleanup” is one of the first crowd-funded projects to try to tackle large-scale environmental problems. With its charismatic founder Boyan Slat being heralded as capturing the imagination of a new generation in the Netherlands.


Boyan said; “The key objective of these tests is to see if we can build something that can survive at sea for years if not decades … we want to test the efficiency of the system, understand its behaviour, and see what damage it suffers over time from abrasion or fatigue.”

Royal Boskalis Westminster, an international dredging and marine contractor, has developed the prototype.

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