Between Hawaii and California lies one of the world’s largest trash accumulations: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This patch in the Pacific Ocean is estimated to consist of at least 79,000 tons of trash. That’s about the same weight as 500 jumbo jets, according to The Ocean Cleanup.
While many researchers believe it would be impossible to clean up that amount of trash, entrepreneur Boyan Slat, founder of the Ocean Cleanup, may be able to prove them wrong. In July, Ocean Cleanup created System 002, or the Jenny, which is the organization’s second attempt at crafting an ocean cleanup system. The Jenny creates an 800 meter (about 2,624 feet) barrier that goes 3 meters (just under 10 feet) deep into the ocean, Slat said in a YouTube video. The Jenny has flotation devices that give it a u-shape in the water, thus creating two barriers that collect trash. Its net is open underneath it so that fish can escape.
“As we move through the plastic and through the water, then you get a natural flow of water caused by that movement,” Slat said in the video. “And the plastic is carried along those two barriers, which we call wings, on either side.”
During a 12-week trial run, Slat said the Ocean Cleanup team collected all the trash out of the Jenny about once a week and emptied it onto one of the two ships that drag the Jenny through the water. They then sorted out the trash for proper recycling. After the trial ended on Oct. 14, the Jenny collected 9,000 kgs (about 19,841 pounds) of ocean debris.
In a statement released Oct. 20, Ocean Cleanup said they plan on scaling System 002 into another iteration, System 003, which they hope will be three times larger than the current Jenny. About 10 upscaled systems could clean the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Slat said in an Oct. 9 tweet. In just five years, he added, these systems could remove 50% of the accumulated trash.
“While it’s just the tip of the iceberg, these kilograms are the most important ones we will ever collect, because they are proof that cleanup is possible,” Slat said in the release. “We still have a lot of things to iron out, but one thing we know now is that, with a small fleet of these systems, we can clean this up.”
Check out the video below to learn about how the Jenny can clean the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
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Featured Image Credit: TheOceanCleanup.com.