Skip to content

Environmental group pulls 100,000 kg of plastic garbage from Pacific

Goal is to scale up and run a fleet of plastic-plucking systems
Some of the plastic garbage collected from the Great Plastic Garbage Patch by The Ocean Cleanup environmental group. VIA THE OCEAN CLEANUP

An environmental group dedicated to removing plastic from rivers and oceans recently hit a milestone by hauling more than 100,000 kilograms of plastic out of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit organization based in the Netherlands, launched an expedition a year ago from Victoria’s Ogden Point to test a system designed to gather floating garbage from the patch, located between California and Hawaii, and haul it onto a ship using a net.

“We are just getting started here but [it is] very exciting to now set our sights to the next milestone of a million kilos of plastic from the ocean,” founder and chief executive Boyan Slat said in a video accompanying the announcement.

After test campaigns last year and this year showed the system, dubbed Jenny, works, The Ocean Cleanup announced last week that it was scaling up its technology with a new system that will be 2,500 metres long, far larger than previous versions.

The new iteration will be able to collect more garbage at a lower cost per kilogram on an ongoing basis, it said.

The goal is to scale up to operate a fleet of the systems.

Slat established the organization in 2013 out of concern about the impact of plastic on marine life, which can die as a result of becoming trapped in plastic or eating it, since plastics break down into microsizes that work through the food chain.

The organization has carried out 45-plus extractions to collect 101,353 kilograms of plastic. Ships using the Jenny system have swept more than 3,000 square kilometres, the organization said.

When the organization mapped the garbage patch in 2018, including its outer limits, it estimated the patch contained 100 million kilograms of plastics.

“If we repeat this 100,000 kilogram haul 1,000 times, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch will be gone,” Slat said.

[email protected]

On the web:

>>> To comment on this article, write a letter to the editor: [email protected]