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New Ocean Plastic Cleaner

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The Ocean Cleanup organization recently took another step in their mission to clean the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, by launching their new ‘System 03’. It is nearly three times larger than their previous technology, and is capable of cleaning an area the size of a football field every five seconds. 

Their two smaller systems have been working since 2021, and have extracted over 275 tons of plastic. System 03 marks a huge leap forward for Ocean Cleanup and its founder, Dutch CEO Boyan Slat. He and his team are intent on ridding 90% of the plastic trash from the oceans by 2040.

System 03 consists of a floating barrier approximately 2.2 km long, which is towed between two large boats that move it slowly through the water. Suspended from the barrier is a screen that extends four meters below the surface of the water, where most floating plastic is encountered. There is also a ‘marine animal safety hatch’ which is monitored by underwater cameras. This lets crew members provide a clear exit for animals that wander into the collection zone. Once the trash is removed, it is then sorted on the boats so that it is ready for recycling. “By making System 03 so much bigger than our previous efforts - alongside other multiple upgrades we’ve implemented - we can cover a much larger area of ocean in less time and using fewer resources.”   

Cleaning Rivers As Well

Ocean Cleanup is also working to solve a related issue that is critical to the overall plastic pollution problem: the world’s most littered rivers. It is through these rivers that most of the plastic flows into the ocean. By “turning off the taps” and catching plastic along a river’s course, the more difficult task of capturing it in the ocean can be greatly reduced. To do this they have developed ‘Interceptors’, which are efficient solar-powered barges that gobble up plastic garbage in rivers. Each Interceptor can extract up to 100,000 kilograms of trash per day. As of 2023 they have been deployed in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam and Jamaica. The newest Interceptor is in Los Angeles (US) on Ballona Creek, which carries plastic into the Pacific Ocean. The eventual goal is to clean up hundreds of the most polluting rivers throughout the world. But every river is not the same, so in addition to the Interceptor barges they create unique solutions that are suited to each river. These are usually high tech barriers that block the plastic so that it can be collected in bulk.

Cleaning the river

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