Ocean Cleanup is launching a new $20 million system to eliminate the nearly two trillion pieces of trash floating in the Pacific ocean. The non-profit innovated a new system called a floating boom, and it is currently undergoing test trials. It could make massive strides toward the cleanliness of the ocean.
According to Forbes, the floating boom system is estimated to clean up over half of the waste in the Pacific ocean within the first five years of being enacted.
The technology behind the new system consists of a 600-meter long floater and a 3-meter deep skirt below. A floating boom system is U-shaped, and the ocean’s current allows for the plastic to be trapped like a funnel to then be easily be removed.
Many people are concerned with this structure being an issue for marine life. In the past, fishing nets have been a problem because animals become trapped in them. However, the skirt on the floating boom system is short enough for marine life to escape the system.
Solar power lights, anti-collision systems, cameras, sensors and satellite antennas are all present on the floating boom system. These facets allow the system to be tracked while calculating performance data.
Conceptually speaking, the system is ingenious. The $20 million is being put toward implementing several of these floating boom systems across the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Ocean Cleanup was founded in 2013 by Boyan Slat, an 18-year-old Dutch entrepreneur.
“When talking about environmental issues in general, a common response is, well that’s a long way off, that’s for our children to worry about. Hello, here I am,” Slat said.
Slat is an advocate for initiating change in the environment. At age 24, he is the CEO of a non-profit he created himself. He is responsible for sparking an interest in today’s generation for change in the environment.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest area of debris stuck in a rotating current, as stated by marinedebris.noaa.gov. It sits just above Hawaii.
According to Ocean Cleanup, five offshore plastic accumulation zones exist in the world’s oceans, also known as gyres. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch happens to be the largest, and it is between the west coast of the United States and the coast of Hawaii.
The size of the GPGP is difficult to comprehend because it is approximately three times the size of France, or twice the size of Texas. Many parts of the GPGP are practically undetectable because it is made up of mostly microplastic.
Microplastic does not break down completely, and it is harmful to life in the ocean.,The general trash and microplastics in this location prove to be detrimental to marine and human life.
At least 136,000 seals, sea lions and large whales are killed each year due to trash in the ocean, according to One Green Planet. Unfortunately, many of these animals suffer slow and painful deaths that ultimately result in crippling infections and often starvation.
Fish in the GPGP cannot escape the tiny fibers of plastic, so they are forced to consume them. When people consume fish, they are also consuming the chemicals in the plastic.
Ocean Cleanup plans to reach full-scale deployment across the other four gyres. The other four gyres consist of the Indian Ocean, North Atlantic, South Atlantic and South Pacific.
Generation Z is proving to be very environmentally conscious.
“People can definitely reduce their plastic by using reusable straws, silverware, or dishes instead of one-time use items,” Corie Gleason, freshman forensic chemistry major said.
Many clubs and action projects are available on campus as well. The Washburn EcoBods is a student organization focused on environmental issues.
Every Leadership 100 course has a mandatory Campus Action Project (CAP) that allows students to make a change on issues that hold importance to them. A section of Leadership 100 this semester is pushing to implement a campus compost and plastic reduction.
“I think people aren’t quite as informed as they need to be, obviously. People don’t think they make an impact, like people in the Midwest don’t think their trash will end up in the ocean,” Gleason said.
Education must be present in order for the reduction of plastic and trash in the ocean to make large developments. Non-profits, such as Ocean Cleanup, are contributing to this societal change.
“For society to progress, we should not only move forward but also clean up after ourselves,” Slat said.