During the last weeks we’ve assisted to a massive media coverage regarding the COP25, a global meeting about how to tackle climate change in Madrid. Also, most of the media information has been focused around the figure of activist Greta Thunberg. However, other important initiatives have been kept aside and some of them, like The Ocean Cleanup, deserve all our attention. The Ocean Cleanup is an ambitious and necessary enviromental health project that has already turned into a tangible reality. An initiative that aims to get rid of the plastic garbage that floats in our seas an oceans. A very strong action that could contribute to slow down the effects of climate change.
The aim of The Ocean Cleanup: get rid of 90% of the ocean floating plasticEach year, more and more plastic debris get to the ocean. Most of this pollution comes from the rivers that spill all this garbage into the oceans and create large trash patches that endanger the enviroment, our health and therefore our societies and economies. This systems uses a highly advanced tecnology that allows to collect and clean large amounts of floating plastics. The project has two lines of action: the cleaning of the oceans and avoiding the waste of the rivers to reach the oceans.
Clean the ocean: getting rid of large plastic garbage patchesOver 5 trillion pieces of plastic currently litter the oceanTrash accumulates in five ocean garbage patches, the largest one being the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located between Hawaii and California. Solving it requires a combination of closing the source, and cleaning up what has already accumulated in the ocean The ocean is big. Cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch using conventional methods – vessels and nets – would take thousands of years and tens of billions of dollars to complete. The passive systems are estimated to remove 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage patch in just five years, and at a fraction of the cost. The system consists of a long floater that sits at the surface of the water and skirt that hangs beneath it. The floater provides buoyancy to the entire system, while the skirt prevents debris from escaping underneath and leads it into the retention system, or cod end. A cork line above the skirt prevents overtopping and keeps the skirt afloat. For an area of this size, active cleanup methods would be too energy-intensive; this is why we have chosen a passive design. The cleanup systems rely on natural forces to navigate the patches – a feature that also increases its survivability in the harsh ocean environment. Both the plastic and system are being carried by the wind, waves, and current. However, to catch plastics there needs to be a difference in speed between the system and the plastics. Using a sea anchor to slow down the system, plastic can be retained and captured.
Avoiding garbage to reach the oceans: The InterceptorRivers are the main source of ocean plastic pollution. They are the arteries that carry waste from land to the ocean. Researchs found that 1000 rivers are responsible for roughly 80% of the pollution. To get rid the oceans of plastic, we need to not only clean up what is already out there, but also stop new plastic from entering the ocean: we need to close the tap. The Interceptor is The Ocean Cleanup’s answer for river plastic waste. It is the first scalable solution to prevent plastic from entering the world’s oceans from rivers. It is 100% solar-powered, extracts plastic autonomously, and is capable of operating in the majority of the world’s most polluting rivers. Working with the government and local operators we will help to determine the best setup that produces the most effective extraction output and the least interference with vessel traffic in the river. There’re two Interceptors fully working right now: one in Jakarta, Indonesia, and other on River Klang, Indonesia.
Boyan Slat: founder of The Ocean Cleanup
The Ocean Cleanup was an idea that was developed first by Bojan Slat, a young dutch entrepreneur that, after finding a lot of plastic while diving on holidays in Greece, drew the first sketches of the passive cleanup system. With support from a variety of institutions and professionals, the system has developed from 2012 until our days, when it’s already fully working in several spots around the globe. Its current success predicts a very bright future for The Ocean Cleanup and therefore, for the enviroment and the planet. To sum up, a pretty ambitious and relevant project that doesn’t have all the attention that it deserves. However, the way this enterprise is working allows us have hope on the results of the action and results that it will have on the oceans and rivers. Several countries and goverments are already keeping track of the project and implementing it on their rivers. We highly recommend you to dive in their website and get a clearer insight on the project. Sure you’re going to love it and also feel hopeful about the future of the oceans.