The Ocean Cleanup team hit a new milestone in July 2022: They removed their first 100,000 KG of plastic waste from the Great Pacific Garbage patch. In other words, they have now removed a total of 100,000 KG of plastic from our oceans - an incredible feat! The weight of the captured plastic is the equivalent to two and a half Boeing 737-800s planes, helping to put into perspective the sheet volume of plastic that was captured.
However, how was it possible to achieve such an incredible feat? The Ocean Cleanup team launched their System 002, a vessel that uses computational modelling to locate garbage and collect it using net barriers that extend three metres below the surface of the ocean. Using this system allowed the team to collect a total of 101,353 kg of plastic over the course of forty-five extractions.
After achieving such an encouraging milestone, the team began to question how long it would take to clean up the entire Great Pacific Garbage Patch. After conducting some careful calculations, the team figured out that they would need to complete the same haul a total of 1,000 times, in order to eliminate all the plastic within the patch. This is certainly encouraging news and gives the team a new goal to work towards, alongside the development of their new System 03.
CEO and Founder of The Ocean Cleanup, Boyan Slat, says that he is 'proud' of his team for reaching such a milestone, especially considering that it was an experimental system. Now, he is focused on reaching the team's next goal - removing the entire patch.
Other recent developments have also sparked hope for the removal of plastics from aquatic environments, such as fish robots that can remove plastics from rivers. This advancement aims to help to remove microplastics from 'hard to reach' places in rivers.