Cleaning Up the Ocean

October 18, 2019
CATCH OF THE DAY Ocean Cleanup’s floating barrier gathers plastic waste floating in the Pacific Ocean.
THE OCEAN CLEANUP

The Ocean Cleanup has a system for removing plastic from the sea. The group ran into problems early on. But now the system is up and working.

“I am very proud to share with you that we are now catching plastics,” the group’s founder, Boyan Slat, says. He spoke to reporters on October 2.

The Ocean Cleanup system is a floating barrier. It uses a giant screen that hangs below the water’s surface. The screen traps pieces of plastic as they float by. It does not trap marine animals.

The barrier didn’t work well last year. It floated at the same speed as the plastic it was meant to catch. Since then, an underwater parachute has been added. This slows down the barrier. Now it can catch the faster-moving plastics.

The device is being used in an area of the Pacific Ocean known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Some 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic have collected there. The pollution harms animals. It also gets into the food chain. Slat hopes to get half of the trash cleaned up by 2025.

The next step is to improve the barrier so it will be able to gather plastic trash for a year. Then a ship will carry the trash away. “It’s definitely not going to be easy,” Slat says.

Stop and Think! What questions would you ask Boyan Slat if you were to write an article about the Ocean Cleanup system? How would you come up with interview questions?