The Dutch non-profit led by young entrepreneur Boyan Slat is just now bringing the first batch of ocean plastic back to shore following a successful mission to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
The first plastic arrived last week in Vancouver, British Columbia, after being caught by The Ocean Cleanup’s u-shaped floating collection system.
Now onshore, the plastic trash will be recycled into consumer products that will that The Ocean Cleanup will sell to help fundraise for future cleanup operations.
To certify that the plastic is in fact ocean plastic, The Ocean Cleanup has teamed up with classification society DNV GL, who has been for the last 18 months working to establish a set of requirements and verification process for the plastic collected.
“To bring transparency to the market, we asked the leading certification body DNV GL to launch a standard, to certify that ocean plastic is actually 100% plastic taken from the ocean,” said Boyan Slat, the 25-year-old Founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup. “DNV GL followed every step of ocean plastic and will continue to do so, to be able to confirm if the plastic in our products truly is 100% coming from the ocean.”
Based in Rotterdam, The Ocean Cleanup was launched by Slat in 2013 with the mission of ridding the world’s oceans of plastic trash through the development of a fleet of long, floating barriers that move with the currents to passively concentrate and collect ocean plastic and other trash for collection. The company deployed its first system to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in September 2018, but almost immediately it began experiencing difficulties which sent it back to shore for repairs and upgrades.
After correcting the issues, The Ocean Cleanup deployed its second system in June 2019 and, after several months of trials, the company announced its first plastic collection in October.
“Welcoming the first catch of plastic on land is the moment we have been looking forward to for years. 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”, Slat said on the upcoming plans of The Ocean Cleanup.
With “Mission One” now complete, Slat and The Ocean Cleanup are looking towards the deployment for their second system, System 002, which is hoped to be a “key stepping stone” to full-scale cleanup of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
After a year of testing, the company behind the world’s first large-scale ocean cleanup system says is system is now succesffully capturing and collecting plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Launched from Vancouver in June, System 001/B is The Ocean Cleanup’s second attempt to prove its concept of collecting garbage from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the largest accumulation zone of plastic in the world’s oceans.
The company announced Wednesday that the system is now working as planned. In addition to collecting visible plastic debris and larger ghost nets associated with commercial fishing, the system has also successfully captured microplastics as small as 1 millimeter, a feat which the company says it was pleasantly surprised to achieve.
The concept for the first cleanup system, which uses natural environmental forces to catch plastic and other ocean debris at or near the surface, was first presented by Boyan Slat at a TEDx conference in October 2012.
One collected, the plastic collected is returned to land for recycling.
“After beginning this journey seven years ago, this first year of testing in the unforgivable environment of the high seas strongly indicates that our vision is attainable and that the beginning of our mission to rid the ocean of plastic garbage, which has accumulated for decades, is within our sights,” said Boyan Slat.
The Ocean Cleanup launched System 001/B from Vancouver back in June following a year of testing. The company’s first sytem, System 001, aka “Wilson”, was launched from San Francisco in September 2018, but ultimately failed due to a “structural malfunctioning” which forced it back to port for repairs.
“Our team has remained steadfast in its determination to solve immense technical challenges to arrive at this point,” Slat added. “Though we still have much more work to do, I am eternally grateful for the team’s commitment and dedication to the mission and look forward to continuing to the next phase of development.”
With the early success of the System 001/B, The Ocean Cleanup says it will now begin to design its next ocean cleanup system, System 002; a full-scale cleanup system which will retain the collected plastic for long periods of time.
The Ocean Cleanup ultimately aims at deploying dozens of systems to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch over the coming years. If successful, the fleet could be enough to remove half of the nearly 2 trillion pieces of plastic estimated to be floating on or near the surface of the Pacific Ocean in just five years.