Cleaning up what’s in the ocean
Cleaning up millions of pounds of trash, mostly plastic, which have created an oceanic desert where only tiny phytoplankton can survive, is extremely critical. At least one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals die each year due to plastic pollution. This so-called “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” has a horrendous environmental, economic and public health impact. The global impacts of this waste are estimated at roughly $13 trillion. Ocean plastic does not disappear by itself so it has to be cleaned up.
A Dutch startup called 'The Ocean Cleanup' developed the first feasible method to clean up world’s ocean garbage patches. They will begin next year to passively collect plastic debris in the waters specifically focusing on the North Pacific accumulation zone - also known as ‘the Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ (between Japan and South Korea, near the island group of Tsushima).
They proposed to deploy a very long array of floating barriers attached to the seabed. This would act as an artificial coastline, allowing the ocean to clean itself. 'The Ocean Cleanup' aims to deploy the first pilot system in 2016, and hopes to be able to start cleaning the North Pacific by 2020. Read More
The system will act as a barrier, trapping floating debris and allowing ships to pick it up using a conveyor belt 7,900 times faster than current methods, and at just 3 percent of the current cost. If deployed in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch for 10 years, the company says it could remove 42 percent of the trash, at a cost of around $5 a kilo.
"By cleaning up what is out there right now, we also prevent the creation of more microplastics. Over time, in a process called photodegradation, UV radiation causes large plastic objects to fragment into ever smaller pieces. Not only are smaller pieces harder to extract, but they are also more harmful than large objects due to bioavailability to the small creatures that form the base of the marine food web. Small pieces are being consumed by fish and birds, and may thereby transport toxic persistent chemicals into the food chain (which includes us humans)." ..... from 'The Ocean Cleanup'