Remember that $20 million ocean cleanup project? It isn’t working.

The $20 million effort to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage
Patch has hit a bit of a snafu.

Organizers for The Ocean Cleanup, which launched the project in
September, already had their work cut out for them — the floating
garbage patch is made up of an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of
plastic, which has coalesced into a field of debris twice the size
of Texas, weighing in at 88,000 tons (that’s the equivalent of

500 jumbo jets
, yikes).

In order to clean up the massive garbage island, engineers at
the non-government organization built a U-shaped barrier, which
they hoped would act like a coastline, trapping the plastic
floating in large swathes of the patch. The system can communicate
its whereabouts at all times, allowing a support vessel to come by
periodically to pick up all the junk in the device’s trunk, so to
speak, for recycling.

The highly anticipated endeavor deployed out of San Francisco in
September, when the floating device — known as System 001 or
Wilson — was towed out to the island of rubbish located between
California and Hawaii. The goal of The Ocean Cleanup is to remove
up to
50 percent
of plastics in the area within five years.

But so far, the giant garbage catcher is having issues holding
on to plastic waste.

George Leonard, chief scientist of the Ocean Conservancy, a
non-profit environmental advocacy says the organization’s goal is
admirable, but can’t be the only solution to ocean plastics
pollution. He
said
a solution must include a multi-pronged approach,
including stopping plastic from reaching the ocean in the first
place. Humans dump more than
8 million tons of trash
into the ocean each year — the
equivalent of one dump truck full of plastic every minute.

“The clock is ticking; we must confront this challenge before
plastics overwhelm the ocean,” Leonard
said.

The Ocean Cleanup Fonder Boyan Slat
said
the slow speed of the solar-powered 600-meter long barrier
isn’t allowing it to scoop up plastic from the swirling trash
island. Over the next few weeks, a crew of engineers will make
tweaks to the system. Slat says it’s all part of the process when
you take on a project this ambitious (Forbes
called it “the world’s largest ocean cleanup”).

In a
statement
released on December 20, Slat said that he always
expected it was going to be a bit of an ongoing experiment. “What
we’re trying to do has never been done before,” he said.
“For the beta phase of [the] technology, this is already a
success.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline
Remember that $20 million ocean cleanup project? It isn’t
working.
on Dec 26, 2018.

Source: FS – All – Science – News
Remember that million ocean cleanup project? It isn’t working.