The Ocean Cleanup Project now has a new tool in its arsenal to fight marine plastic.  

Ocean currents have bought a vast patch of plastic waste together, halfway between Hawaii and California. This huge, floating island of rubbish is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and is three times the size of France.

Boyan Slat, the creator of the Ocean Cleanup project, uses a 2000 foot, free-floating boom to capture and retain ocean debris.  Slat tweeted that his ocean cleanup system is now finally catching plastic, from one-ton ‘ghost nets’, to tiny microplastics.  About 600,000 to 800,000 metric tons of fishing gear is abandoned or lost at sea every year.  Another eight million tonnes of plastic waste comes from beaches.

Slat’s cleanup device has a 10-metre screen below the boom, which traps plastic without disturbing marine life below.  The device is fitted with transmitters and sensors so it can communicate its position via satellite, to a vessel that will collect the gathered rubbish every few months. The plastic gathered so far, is bought to shore for recycling. The plan is now to scale up the device and make it more durable, so it can retain plastic for up to a year, or even longer, before collection is necessary.