The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

For years now there has been a floating island of plastic deep in the Pacific ocean. As we know from class this garbage patch is largely composed of small degraded plastics, called micro plastics, that are very hard to clean up. This is one of the greatest environmental disasters to ever take place and the scale of future clean ups will be enormous. There is some hope though, despite the scale and severity. Just the other day as I was on the internet I came across a very interesting article. An article on an actual cleanup solution for the Great Pacific garbage patch. At just 22, Boyan Slat has created a barrier system designed to collect garbage from the ocean that will collect the trash and not disturb marine life. As the CEO of The Ocean Cleanup, Boyan has dedicated his life and company to cleaning the Earths oceans. Currently The Ocean Cleanup is testing their new prototype on the coast of the Netherlands and so far it has worked! Unlike many other cleanup techniques which use nets that could possibly disturb marine life. The Oceans Cleanup prototype uses non-permeable screens to collect trash and plastics, making it possible to keep marine life safe while it is employed. As Boyan Slat explained in the article “It’s sort of like a long floating curtain, which is about five feet above the water and five feet below the water,” he says. “It acts like an artificial coastline where there is no coastline. Ocean currents in the area, they rotate, so it doesn’t stay in one spot,” he says. “We are basically making use of that movement to let the plastic hit the barrier, and because the barrier is in a ‘V’ shape, the plastic gets pushed towards the center.” The companies plan after the materials are collected is to ship them to land where they can be recycled and used for making chairs and car bumpers, materials that have a low probability of ending up in the ocean again. While the prototype is not currently deployed yet in the Pacific ocean, estimates show that the prototype could clean up about 98% of the materials. If all goes well and models prove to be correct this could be one of the greatest clean ups in environmental history.

Edwin Doll


3 thoughts on “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

  1. I really enjoyed your post. It’s nice to hear the side of the clean ups story to this. I had posted about a man using floating trash as an island to live on which was strange but at least useful. He actually had a double layer of trash in order to maintain a float with no risk. I really think ocean clean up will be the next big move as it is a very important ecosystem to our planet.
    -Tymandra Amburgy-


  2. Edwin, this post makes me extremely happy! Littering into the Pacific has been an issue for a while now and I did not know that a useful action is being taken to clean up most of this debris. The ocean isn’t a garbage dump. There is intelligent, living life in the Pacific that can also be very useful to us. This issue should have been taken more solemnly a while ago. I’m glad there is action being taken upon it now.


  3. Do you think there is any hope for cleaning this up? Something that I don’t think people realize is that with environmental damage there is no way to reverse the negative impacts. Yes you can grow new trees after you cut them down, or you can clean up trash after is has been in the environment, but after that initial impact, there are environmental factors that you cannot restore. I find it curious that no one really focuses on that idea. What do you think?

    Halle Van De Hey


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