With billions of people on the planet, we generate a lot of trash. And sadly, much of the waste ends up in waters, presenting a huge problem for marine life and one or the other way, it affects us also. A non-profit organization in Netherlands Ocean Cleanup Foundation is working on a solution for cleaning up the oceans.
Mission of hunting for ocean waste
The Ocean Cleanup Foundation has unveiled a huge, 328-foot-long floating barrier that will collect the miscellaneous pieces of plastic bottles, bags, fishing nets, and other trash that floats in the seas. And ideally, the barrier would replace the boats that are currently tasked with the mission of hunting for ocean waste. It has just launched this floating barrier in North Sea and If it can survive the rough conditions of those waters, the plan is to deploy a 62 mile-long (!) barrier in the Pacific Ocean and reduce the size of the notorious Great Pacific Garbage Patch — the hope is to halve the size of the trash field in 10 years.
The Ocean Cleanup’s cleaning technology makes use of long floating barriers which act as an artificial coastline, passively catching and concentrating ocean debris. The system is powered by the ocean’s natural currents. Testing the barriers is important because of their crucial role in the cleanup concept. Although some trash may be caught during the North Sea prototype test, collecting plastic is not its objective.
No danger to marine life
Over the course of the next year, researchers will test the effectiveness of the boom, including how it withstands ocean currents, waves, and the elements, and ensure that it doesn’t disrupt marine life. As for the cleaning process itself, the barrier comes with a two-meter deep screen that creates a sort of curtain, collecting trash as water passes through it. Should the results prove satisfactory, the next step would be to send the full version to the waters between Hawaii and the west coast of the United States.
Other installations are planned in the years following, before a 100 km (62 mi) floating system is rolled out at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch between Hawaii and California. The system could make it possible to cut the time required to clean up the world’s oceans from millennia to mere years.
Whether or not it’s an ideal solution is up for debate. The 6.6-foot-deep design shouldn’t interfere with wildlife (unlike existing nets) and is intended to last through vicious storms. However, there is a possibility that such a heavy barrier can affect the distribution of marine life in the region.
Also, this problem is an outcome of a larger problem. The bigger challenge is to make people understand not to throw garbage in the seas.