A huge floating device designed by Boyan Slat and a team of Dutch scientists to clean up an island of rubbish in the Pacific Ocean that is three times the size of France has successfully picked up plastic from the high seas for the first time.
Slat, who first unveiled his idea for the Ocean Cleanup Project on a TED Talk in 2012, tweeted that the 600 meter-long (2,000ft) free-floating boom had captured and retained debris from what is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Alongside a picture of the collected rubbish, which includes a car wheel, Slat wrote, “Our ocean cleanup system is now finally catching plastic, from one-ton ghost nets to tiny microplastics! Also, anyone missing a wheel?”
The vast cleaning system is designed to not only collect discarded fishing nets and large visible plastic objects but also microplastics. The plastic barrier floating on the surface of the sea has a three meter-deep (10ft) screen below it, which is intended to trap some of the 1.8tn pieces of plastic without disturbing the marine life below.
The plastic gathered so far will be brought to shore in December for recycling. The project believes there may be a premium market for items that have been made using plastic reclaimed from the ocean.