Some 360 million tons of plastics are produced each year, of which around 8 million end up floating in the oceans and end up being part of the great islands of products made with fossil fuels, such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The United Nations warns that, if this trend is not reversed, there could be more plastic waste than fish in the oceans by 2050.
Cleaning the oceans has become one of the main concerns of many scientists. Among them, Boyan Slat, the founder of The Ocean CleanUp , the NGO that more than a decade ago set out to eliminate 90% of the floating plastic from the ocean by 2040 and has just launched a new device capable of collecting about 350 tons of plastic per year. anus. During one of the tests, the machine captured 28,000 tons of plastic of the nearly 80,000 that make up the island of floating garbage located between Hawaii and California.
System 002, known as Jenny , is guided by two boats and is basically an artificial floating shoreline in a U-shape about 800 meters long that traps the plastic in its fold . Once full, the boats collect the waste and take it back to shore, where it is recycled. In order not to accidentally catch fish and other marine life, as trawling does, the boats move at a speed of 1.5 knots, slow enough for them to swim away. Likewise, the system has exit routes and lights to guide these animals out of the network.
Based on the results of the latest tests of this prototype, The Ocean CleanUp calculates that it could sweep plastics larger than 10 millimeters in the area equivalent to a football field every 15 seconds . According to Slat, it would take about ten Jennys to clean up half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in five years.
However, not everything is positive. The organization has come under fire for the carbon footprint of the boats used to tow Jenny . For this reason, The Ocean CleanUp is working with the Maersk shipping company to offset the emissions made so far.
After years of failed projects, this success has inspired the members of The CleanUp and they are already thinking about the next step: developing a fleet made up of several ships with the System 003, a network three times larger with the capacity to tow 30 times more. amount of garbage .