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Ocean plastic-trapping ‘artificial coastline’ to depart from Victoria

The Ocean Cleanup’s project is heading to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
The Ocean Cleanup project’s latest iteration of plastic-collecting technology, the System 002, will leave Victoria and head to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. (Ocean Cleanup/ Twitter)

A non-profit organization’s project will launch from Victoria’s coast in about two weeks as it departs to one of the most densely concentrated collections of garbage on the seas.

The Ocean Cleanup project announced on July 13 that it’ll pioneer its latest iteration of plastic-collecting technology, the System 002, when it leaves Victoria and heads to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The concept is to drag a tensioned, 800-metre long “artificial coastline” – nicknamed Jenny – through areas of the ocean where plastics pool together in massive amounts.

Two vessels will pull the System 002 at each tip of the U-shaped flexible barrier as it tries to corral the floating plastics and collect them in a “retention zone.” The ships use computer models to navigate towards areas where the highest concentration of plastics – which Ocean Cleanup calls “natural hotspots” – can be collected.

The ships only move at about 0.75 metres per second, but will try maximizing the cleanup’s efficiency by navigating through the mapped hotspots, such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

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The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is located between Hawaii and California in the North Pacific Gyre, according to the National Oceanic and Atmosperic Administration (NOAA). The “patch” nickname, according to NOAA, doesn’t mean it’s a floating, solid, plastic island in the ocean. It’s really a collection of plastics of all sizes that get sucked together by gyres – powerful rotating currents – and are floating from the water’s surface to the ocean floor.

Once the System 002’s retention zone is full, it’s hauled onto the vessels’ decks and emptied, before going back in the water to collect more. All of the collected plastics are recycled by the organization and made into products.

If Jenny works and the vessels pull it through the plastic-dense areas with increased speed and efficiency, compared to past models, the project expects to be able to clean an area equal to a football field every 15 seconds out on the ocean.

“It’s absolutely crucial that this test campaign goes well,” said Boyan Slat, Ocean Cleanup’s CEO and founder, while announcing the System 002. “It’s really the foundation to go to System 003 (Jenny’s successor that’s three-times larger) and then to the scale-up.”

The Ocean Cleanup project’s goal is to reduce the amount of plastic in the oceans by 90 per cent by 2040. Animal species, and billions of people who eat sea animals for as a food source, are impacted by the creatures consuming the plastic pieces. The project also said plastics in the ocean are costing billions of dollars annually.

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Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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