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Giant Pac-Man system could help eat up ocean plastic pollution

It was recently reported that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a huge swath of plastic debris floating in the ocean, now measures almost one full square mile in area. An organization called The Ocean Cleanup calculated the most recent garbage patch size thanks to a mega aerial expedition surveying the extent of the plastic in the area.

Now, Ocean Cleanup is working on deploying a huge Pacman-like sweeper designed to collect floating plastic in the Garbage Patch which can then be removed from the ocean and recycled on land.

The Ocean Cleanup system is a 600-meter plastic floating tube that forms a natural U-shape and sits above the water attached to a tapered three-meter deep skirt. Its design is meant to ensure that plastic can’t slip underneath the tube but also makes sure sealife can pass under unharmed.

The system will use wind, waves, and currents to maneuver through the Great Garbage Patch and every few months the collected garbage will be hauled away to land.

“After completing the redesign last summer and passing third-party reviews, this is the design that is currently being constructed and is set to head into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch two months from now,” Ocean Cleanup CEO Boyan Slat told the Daily Mail.

Ocean Cleanup claims that the new system could clean up fifty percent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch every five years and a fleet of the systems could remove 90 percent of all of the ocean plastic by 2040.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch contains 1.8 million pieces of plastic and that number is only projected to increase.

If all goes according to the plan, the Ocean Cleanup technology could effectively solve one of the world’s biggest environmental hazards and make the seas safer for marine wildlife and seabirds.

The system still has to undergo some more testing, trials, and assembly before the cleanup technology will be towed 1,200 nautical miles offshore to start cleanup.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

Image Credit: The Ocean Cleanup

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