The Ocean Cleanup is Getting Started

by Sean Vandehey

Boyan Slat's group The Ocean Cleanup is gearing up to start the first test run of their screening system to remove plastic waste from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  In May, they will be deploying their prototype passive system which aims to filter out larger pieces of plastic debris before they can erode into more harmful microplastics.  If the test run is successful, it will pave the way for a larger scale deployment that, if TOC's estimates are correct, could clean up half the GPGP in five years.

While the efficacy of Boyon Slat's design has been the subject of intense debate as the system has ramped up to this deployment, the problem of microplastics in the world's oceans remains as real as ever.  While the majority of the plastic in the ocean is far smaller than TOC's system can filter out, this is because those larger pieces continually erode into smaller and smaller parts, until the micropellets find their way into the food chain.  The go…

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