By 2050 they’ll be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
Ocean gyres in the North and South Pacific, North and South Atlantic, and Indian Oceans continue to trap huge collections of plastic in their currents, leaking harmful contaminants into marine ecosystems and the food chain. Whilst the majority of clean up initiatives have focused on beaches and shorelines, The Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit based in the Netherlands, is taking a more direct approach with System 001.
The first target is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP), the largest accumulation of ocean plastics in the world, located in the eastern Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California. Covering an estimated 1.6 million square kilometres, the GPGP is 3 times the size of France and is made up of 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic weighing an estimated 80,000 tonnes. The aim is to reduce this by 50% every 5 years so that by 2040 it will almost be gone – a tall order by any definition.
System 001 operates passively, drifting on the surface, gathering plastic as it goes. At 2000ft long, System 001 is deployed in a “U” shape, marshalling plastic with a 10ft screen that hangs from the surface. Whilst most ocean plastic either floats on the surface or just beneath it on the current, System 001 shifts with the wind, allowing it to gather plastic more effectively. A ship will visit every 6-8 weeks to collect plastic and transport it to land for recycling. It takes 3 weeks to tow System 001 to GPGP, 1,200 miles off the coast of California, with preliminary results expected in the next few months.
Experts have raised concerns regarding its impact on marine ecosystems however System 001 is designed for minimal disruption to life with smooth surfaces to prevent tangling, on-board cameras for security, and noise alerts to scare away fish.
It’s estimated there are more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the oceans right now and in the time it’s taken to read this post, the equivalent of 3 truck-fulls will have been tipped into marine environments. This is not an issue for future generations, it’s one that needs tackling today.
Whether it’s scuba diving or sailing, ECA is very much an ocean-faring company and we take great pride in working with partners and suppliers who are as invested as we are when it comes to ocean preservation. Dell EMC’s Legacy of Good stands as one of the industry’s most progressive environmental strategies against ocean plastics. Find out more here.