The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the world’s biggest plastic accumulation area, and scientists are hard at work trying to get rid of the debris.
This month, workers got rid of more than 10 tons of plastic, with the entire amount that has been removed coming to over 145 tons. However, that amount of materials barely makes a dent, since the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is estimated to hold more than 2.41 million tons of plastic, and it’s only getting bigger.
In a video posted to Twitter, massive amounts of plastic can be seen dumped out on the deck of a ship.
On October 11 we extracted the largest single catch for System 002 to-date; 10,086 kg of plastic removed from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch after only 6.5 days, bringing us to a total of 145,518 kg extracted so far. pic.twitter.com/T0n1vVttmK
— The Ocean Cleanup (@TheOceanCleanup) October 19, 2022
The area is also called the Pacific trash vortex, and is made up of the Western Garbage Patch, as well as the Eastern Garbage Patch. The western patch is near Japan, whereas the eastern one is in between California and Hawaii. Rather than forming what some might consider to be a trash island, the patches are actually mainly composed of microplastics, or small plastic pieces, which aren’t always visible. Scientists also recently found that around 70% of debris that gets into the ocean ends up at the bottom.
The Ocean Cleanup project is attempting to significantly cut down on the amount of plastic in the area over the next several years. Their goal is to get it down 90% by 2040.
The project’s site explained that millions of tons of plastic get into the world’s oceans each year, with most of it coming from rivers. The non-profit group is seeking to get plastic out of oceans by conducting massive clean up expeditions, as well as ending the ways that plastic pollutes the environment in the first place.
“This goal means we plan to put ourselves out of business – once we have completed this project, our work is done,” it noted.
The project’s method of getting plastic out of the garbage patches includes creating an artificial coastline to push all of the plastic into one area.
“With a relative speed difference maintained between the cleanup system and the plastic, we create artificial coastlines, where there are none, to concentrate the plastic,” the group explained. “The system is comprised of a long U-shaped barrier that guides the plastic into a retention zone at its far end.”
After the system is full, part of the retention zone is removed and its contents are brought onto the ship, and the process repeats itself. The extracted plastic is then taken to be recycled.
“Catch, rinse, recycle and repeat – until the oceans are clean,” the group stated.