A waste collection system tasked with eliminating plastic from oceans has begun raking up debris from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Boyan Slat, the founder of The Ocean Cleanup project, at a press conference in Rotterdam said the project has started after a year of testing and one major setback.
“Today, I am very proud to share with you that we are now catching plastics.’’
Slat, 25, said the passive clean-up system is able to capture plastics of all size and classes, including micro-plastics.
He said the project, founded in 2013, aims to install floating devices to catch plastic debris in five garbage patches formed by ocean currents.
According to him, the first device was placed in the biggest, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, around 2,000 kilometres off the coast of California.
Slat explained that the method involves two plastic pipes around 600 metres long floating on the surface of the water, forming a U-shape with a 3-metre long underwater screen beneath.
He further explained that the rubbish is washed into the U-shape, and can then be collected.
Slat said the structure was pulled out of San Francisco Bay into Open Ocean in September 2018.
He said the vessel soon had to be towed back to land after a design flaw resulted in problems in retaining the plastic collected.
Slat said those technical challenges had been addressed and that the process of designing a second system that can operate without human aid for even longer periods of time than the first model was under way.