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Huge tree hopes to corral Pacific Ocean’s plastic waste

On this Monday, Aug. 27, 2018 photo provided by The Ocean Cleanup, a long floating boom used to corral plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean, is mounted in Alameda, California. Engineers to implement a trash collection device to corral plastic waste floating between California and Hawaii, in an attempt to clean up the world’s largest garbage dump. The 2,000-meter-long floating boom will be drawn Saturday, sept. 8, 2018, from San Francisco to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an island of garbage twice the size of Texas.

(The Ocean Cleanup via AP)

SAN FRANCISCO – Engineers sea Saturday to implement a trash collection device to corral plastic waste floating between California and Hawaii, in an attempt to clean up the world’s largest garbage dump in the heart of the Pacific Ocean.

The 2,000-meter-long floating boom was towed from San Francisco to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — an island of garbage twice the size of Texas.

The system is made by The Ocean Cleanup, an organization founded by Boyan Slat, a 24-year-old innovator from the Netherlands, who first became passionate about the cleaning of the oceans when he started diving at the age of 16 in the Mediterranean Sea and saw more plastic bags than fish.

“The plastic is really persistent and it’s not going away and the time to act is now,” Lat said, adding that the researchers, his organization found plastic to go back to the 1960’s and 1970 bobbing up and down in the patch.

The buoyancy, U-shaped barrier made of plastic and with a tapered 10 foot deep screen is intended to act as a coastline, the detention of a number of the 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic that scientists estimate are swirling in that gyre, but allowing the marine life to safely swim below it.

Equipped with solar energy, lighting, cameras, sensors and satellite antennas, the scavenging of the system communicates its position at all times, making a support vessel to fish out the collected plastic to the couple of months and the transport to the dry land where it will be recycled, said Slats.

Containers filled with nets, plastic bottles, laundry baskets and other plastic refuse created by the system will be used Saturday is expected to be back in the country within a year, he said.

Slats said that he and his team pays attention to the question of whether the system works efficiently and is resistant to hard conditions at sea, including huge waves. He said that he is most looking forward to a ship loaded with plastic to come back to the port.

“We still have to prove that the technology… that will allow us to scale up to a fleet of systems,” he said.

The Ocean Cleanup, which has raised $35 million in donations for the financing of the project, including Salesforce.com chief executive Marc Benioff, and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, will deploy 60 free-floating barriers in the Pacific by 2020.

“One of our goals is to have 50 percent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in five years,” Batten said.

The free-floating barriers are made to withstand harsh weather conditions and constant wear and tear. They stay in the water for two years and in that time the collection of 90 percent of the waste in the patch, he added.

George Leonard, chief scientist of the Ocean Conservancy, a non-profit environmental advocacy group, said he was skeptical Slat can to achieve that goal, because even if the plastic waste can be taken out of the ocean, a lot more is pouring in every year.

“We are at the Ocean Conservancy are very skeptical, but we hope that it works,” he said. “The ocean needs all the help he can get.”

Leonard said on 9 million tons of plastic waste enter the ocean every year and that a solution must include a multi-faceted approach, including stopping plastic from reaching the ocean and more education, so that people reduce consumption of single-use plastic bottles and vials.

“If you don’t stop plastics from flowing into the ocean, it will be a Sisyphean task,” Leonard said, referring to the Greek myth of a task is not completed. He added that on September 15, approximately 1 million volunteers around the world collect trash from beaches and inland waterways as part of Ocean Conservancy’s annual International Coastal Cleanup. Volunteers last year collected about 10,000 tonnes of plastics worldwide more than two hours, ” he said.

Leonard was also concern that the marine and the animals can be ensnared by the net that will hang under the surface. He said he hopes the Slats of the group is transparent with its data and share information with the public about what happens with the first implementation.

“He has a very large and lofty goal and we certainly hope that it works, but we are really not going to know until it is deployed,” Leonard said. “We must wait and see.”

The system will act as a “big boat that is still in the water” and will have a screen and not a just so that there is nothing for the marine life to get caught up. As an additional precaution, a boat with experienced marine biologists will be deployed to make sure that the device is not evil, wild, Slats said.

“I am the first to admit that has never been done before and that it is important to collect plastic on the ground and close the valves on the entering of plastic in the ocean, but I also think that humanity can be more than one thing at a time, to tackle this problem,” Lat said.

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