It started with the collection of these few bits of plastic. And it is hopefully going to end with the collection of 142,000 tons of plastic garbage spread across a million square miles of ocean. The first garbage captured by System One, the 2,000 foot floating boom, was a couple of plastic crates, a few bottles and five fishing nets. After steaming out of San Francisco Bay early September 2018, Slat and his crew of scientists on The Ocean Cleanup first tested their equipment for five days, before confirming it good to go, dismantling it and heading off to a point 1200 miles offshore. It took several weeks and some big seas to get there, but System One arrived in tact, is now deployed and at work.
The clean up system works by drifting along the ocean currents in the same way as plastic and trash, with a series of connected floating 4 foot booms which create an arc as shown in the pic. Below the the arc is a 9 foot skirt that captures plastic that drifts through it, pushing the trash to the centre for capture. (Micro-plastics are captured in the hanging skirt.)
If you want more detail on the background, are interested in getting involved or want to track progress, head to the Ocean Cleanup website of follow Boyan Slat on Twitter. For a brief summary, go to our story Boyan Slat Joins the High Seas in Search of Ocean Plastic. For those who are interested in detailed detail, all their research papers and data-sets in relation to the project have been, and always will be, published open source for scientists and anyone else who wants them.
Slat and Ocean Cleanup are hoping to get backing to build around 60 plastic collection booms around the world. The Ocean Cleanup welcome individuals, governments and companies to join the cleanup by adopting and setting up their own ocean cleanup systems. If you would like more information on how to make a major contribution to the scale-up of the Ocean Cleanup fleet, please contact them directly.
If you want to join the Ocean Cleanup team, they are always on the hunt for master problem solvers, willing to do whatever it takes to rid the world's oceans of plastic, contact them via the Ocean Cleanup Careers page.
Of course, everyone and anyone can get involved in the project by picking up plastic (as well as paper, metal, glass and paper) and making sure they don't contribute to ocean pollution.