Currently, as it stands an amazing amount of plastic is in our oceans, with over five trillion pieces of plastic floating around in ocean garbage patches worldwide. If this was left to flow it would impact our ecosystems and humanity more personally by affecting health and economy.
Who are The OceanCleanUp?
TheOceanCleanup is a non-profit organisation that develops different technologies, to clean up the oceans by extracting plastic from the polluted oceans across the world. They are trying to prevent more debris and plastic entering the oceans. The organisation was founded in 2013 by Boyan Slat and has its headquarters in the Netherlands.
As stated by TheOceanCleanup project the aim of the organisation is to ‘create a model that will collect the plastic from the ocean’. Originally this model consists of long floating barriers fixed to the seabed via sea anchors. This allows the entire system to drift with the current of the ocean, but at a slightly slower pace. The idea of this is that it will allow the plastic enough time to catch up with the cleaning process of the mechanism.
In 2018, the sea anchors were abandoned as performance tests showed that the wind moved the mechanism faster than the plastic. However, the basic principle of the mechanism remains that a central platform in the ocean will collect plastic pollutants drifting in the sea, transport them to a central platform, resulting in the plastic being taken out of the ocean.
“System 001 embarked on its final leg of the journey to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. We are happy to announce that it has reached its intended location and has been deployed into operational configuration; the cleanup has officially begun,” The OceanCleanUp noted when asked about their most recent updates on the matter.
Going forward, TheOceanCleanup plans to have cleaned up at least fifty percent of the garbage patch in the Great Pacific Ocean every five years.
Who funds the OceanCleanUp?
TheOceanCleanup organisation has been funded mainly by donations and sponsors from people such as Marc Benioff and Peter Thiel. With their help, the organisation has received $31.5 million. They also raised over two million American dollars with a crowdfunding event. There are many ways that you can support this organisation. Through the website, donations can be made in both Euros which will be supporting Stitchting The Ocean Cleanup and in US Dollars which will be donating to The Ocean Cleanup North Pacific Foundation which will fund cleaning up the Pacific ocean and other American projects.
Does OceanCleanUp have criticism surrounding what their are doing?
There is some criticism about this organisation, however, with some people saying that it sounds too good to be true and that the organisation may not be able to deliver as well as criticism from scientists about the feasibility, method, efficiency,and return on investment. Some believe that the organisation could have done more research and produced an Environmental Impact Report, they also believe that the company could have looked at other alternative options such as fishermen retrieving some of the plastic dumped into the ocean. According to Erikkson et al, they are critical of this approach as they have found that 92 percent of the plastic found in the oceans is smaller than microplastics and therefore will not be able to be caught by the ocean cleanup system. Microplastic has now been found in abundance on ocean floors and on every beach on a global scale. Whereas, Mark Noack believes that instead of doing this, discouraging the world from plastic consumption would have more beneficial effects and wider potential long term.
Cozar et al, (2014) Plastic debris in the open ocean. Proceedings of the National Acadamy of Sciences, 111 (28) 10239-10244.
Erikson et al, (2014) Plastic Pollution in the Worlds Oceans: more than 5 trillion plastic pieces weighing over 250.000 Tons afloat at sea. Plos One 9(12).
M.Noack, (2016) OceanCleanup targets garbage vortex. Mountain View Voice, pp 5-6.