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ENVIRONMENT: Cleaning up the Pacific garbage patch infographic
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Floating trash collector targets Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Graphic News

September 8, 2018 -- The Ocean Cleanup, an ecologically minded tech startup, plans to gather up and recycle millions of tonnes of plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean.

The Ocean Cleanup Project will sail out of San Francisco Bay on a mission to gather up millions of tonnes of plastic floating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, using a specially designed 600-metre-long sea sieve.

The brainchild of 23-year-old Dutch college dropout Boyan Slat, a giant U-shaped “floater” will stay on the sea surface, while a 3-metre-deep “skirt” dangles below the waterline. Wind and waves push the sieve faster than the current that is propelling the plastic waste, allowing it to corral the detritus for pick up by support vessels. The plastic will then be taken ashore for processing and recycling into new products.

If successful, a fleet of 60 systems is expected to clean up 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch every five years. There are four other circulating ocean currents – gyres – around the world that also collect plastic garbage and could be treated using the same method.

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