A giant floating device intended to pick up trash and debris from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, that is three times the size of France, has managed to successfully pick up plastic from the high seas for the first time.
One of the creators behind the project, Boyan Slat from the Netherlands, on Wednesday announced on Twitter that the floatation device managed to capture and retain debris from the mammoth garbage patch.
The device is 600 metres long and is aimed at collecting large pieces of debris as well as micro plastics. The floating part of the device is made of plastic, containing a three-metre deep screen below the water aimed at netting plastic debris without disturbing sea-life below.
Scientists and data-tracking systems estimate that around 600,000 to 800,000 metric tons of fishing equipment are abandoned or lost at sea each year. Taking a local perspective, turtles are often shown on social media to have been found tangles in fishing nets and other gear.
It is believed that around 8m metric tons of plastic waste flows into the sea from beaches each year, despite recent global efforts to curb the use of plastic.
The so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch has retained its shape by an oceanic gyre, a whirlpool of currents. Its location is roughly halfway between Hawaii and California.
“The concept works, the foundation is in order,” a spokesman for the non-profit Ocean Cleanup said. “Now it’s all about perfecting things.”