So far all we’ve been talking about was how to stop putting plastic in the ocean. However, an important question is how we can remove the 5 trillion pieces of plastics that are currently floating in the ocean. For this we will refer to “The Ocean Cleanup” project.
To remove plastics from the ocean, we must focus on the 5 ocean gyres in which plastic accumulates.
In order to remove plastic from these gyres, Boyan Slat came up with a passive system that could remove about half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 10 years. Slats ocean cleanup array consist of an anchored network of floating booms and processing platforms that could be dispatched to garbage patches around the world. The array would span the radius of a garbage patch, acting as a giant funnel. The angle of the booms would force plastic in the direction of the platforms, where it would be separated from plankton, filtered and stored for recycling. The video below shows how the ocean cleanup array would look and function.
However, the Ocean Cleanup Project is not without its share of criticism. One of the main criticism is how would such a massive system affect marine species. Would marine species be caught within the system? and would the system itself be able to withstand the harsh conditions of the sea?
Scientists have argued that the possibility of Bycatch is too high to be ignored. Since the v-shape array concentrates plastic debris in the center, it has the potential to attract predator and prey species, disrupting their normal behaviour or migration patterns. Marine life could also be tempted to consume the plastics accumulating in the array.
The Ocean Cleanup has just unveiled their first prototype in June this year (2016). The prototype will be installed in the northsea to test its feasibility. Hence, we can all keep our fingercross and hope for the best results!!!