The Ocean Cleanup’s plastic catcher has just collected its first plastic at sea!

The Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch initiative, has successfully fished waste out of the sea with its newest prototype of the plastic catcher. The trial took place between the American island group Hawaii and the state of California, about 2000 kilometers off the coast.

Previous iterations of the plastic catcher had failed to hold the plastic it caught properly- waves had flushed the plastic back into the ocean after a few hours. “The problem was that we couldn’t control the speed difference between plastic and the system,” said spokesman Joost Dubois. “You need a serious speed difference to hold the plastic.”

Happily, the newest prototype has overcome this problem, and successfully fished plastic out of the ocean!

New prototype solves two earlier problems

The Ocean Cleanup solved their earlier speed difference problem by creating a sea anchor in the form of a parachute. This slows the plastic catcher down enough for it to be able to hold the plastic. Small plastic, and even microplastics which are about a millimetre in size, are caught in the plastic catcher.

The new prototype has solved another problem: before, plastic would tip over the edges of the catcher. Now, The Ocean Cleanup has made the edges ten times higher, and uses larger floats for the device.

The plastic catcher has higher edges to prevent plastic spilling over. Image: The Ocean Cleanup.

A second plastic catcher next year

Dubois notes that this prototype is still in the experimental phase- it was put together rather quickly to check how a number of options were working. It needs to be trialed in the ocean for a longer period of time, and a second plastic catcher is due to be implemented next year.

The idea of the company is to try to halve the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the enormous plastic soup that floats between California and Hawaii.

Feature Image: The Ocean Cleanup 

Ailish Lalor
Ailish was born in Sydney, Australia, but grew up by a forest in south-east Ireland, which she has attempted to replace with a living room filled with plants in The Hague. Besides catering to her army of pannenkoekenplantjes, Ailish spends her days convincing her friends that all food is better slightly burnt, plotting ways to hang out with dogs and cats, and of course, writing for DutchReview.


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