Wow, if this idea works, and it seems it might, that would be wonderful news, further ratifying that human technology can often fix human mistakes.
From an article at USA Today.
SAN FRANCISCO – On Sept. 8, an ungainly, 2,000-foot-long contraption will steam under the Golden Gate Bridge in what’s either a brilliant quest or a fool’s errand.
Dubbed the Ocean Cleanup Project, this giant sea sieve consists of pipes that float at the surface of the water with netting below, corralling trash in the center of a U-shaped design.
The purpose of this bizarre gizmo is as laudable as it is head-scratching: to collect millions of tons of garbage from what’s known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which can harm and even kill whales, dolphins, seals, fish and turtles that consume it or become entangled in it, according to researchers at Britain’s University of Plymouth.
The project is the expensive, untried brainchild of a 23-year-old Dutch college dropout named Boyan Slat, who was so disgusted by the plastic waste he encountered diving off Greece as a teen that he has devoted his life to cleaning up the mess.
Along with detractors who want to prioritize halting the flow of plastics into the ocean, the Dutch nonprofit gathered support from several foundations and philanthropists, including billionaire Salesforce founder Marc Benioff. In 2017, the Ocean Cleanup Project received $5.9 million in donations and reported reserves from donations in previous years of $17 million.
How it works
The Ocean Cleanup Project’s passive system involves a floating series of connected pipes the length of five football fields that float at the surface of the ocean. Each closed pipe is 4 feet in diameter. Below these hang a 9-foot net skirt.
The system moves more slowly than the water, allowing the currents and waves to push trash into its center to collect it. Floating particles are captured by the net while the push of water against the net propels fish and other marine life under and beyond.
The system is fitted with solar-powered lights and anti-collision systems to keep any stray ships from running into it, along with cameras, sensors and satellites that allow it to communicate with its creators.
For the most part the system will operate on its own, though a few engineers will remain on a nearby ship to observe. Periodically a garbage ship will be sent out to scoop up the collected trash and transport it to shore, where it will be recycled.