Plan to clear Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a Texas-sized ‘island’ of debris in the ocean, draws concerns

A “floating” island of trash called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) now stretches 600,000 square kilometers.

(AP Photo/NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center)

A comprehensive plan masterminded by a college dropout, to help get rid of the Pacific Ocean from a Texas-sized island of trash will kick off the following month.

Although it sounds promising, some experts are concerned about the impact it could have on the marine life — if the message is sent.

The Dutch inventor Boyan Slat, the 24-year-old CEO of The Ocean Cleanup, are at the forefront of the multi-million dollar project to clear a “floating” island of trash called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which now stretches to 600,000 square kilometres between California and Hawaii. The group will start conducting tests on Sept. 8.


Slats-the plan covers a 2,000-metre-long, U-shaped structure that floats on the top of the water, the use of a screen attached below to collect plastic and other waste. The floating barrier will then concentrate the plastic waste at a central point, where it can be fished out of the water and returned to dry land for recycling.

“The screen is impenetrable, and the current will flow under the screen, the guide with the organisms that are not actively moving, while the plastic (floating) remains in the system,” The Ocean Cleanup explains on its website.

The Ocean Cleanup conducted hundreds of scale model tests over the years to ensure that the vessel would be able to handle rough currents.

(The Ocean Cleanup)

Eben Schwartz, marine debris program manager for the California Coastal Commission, said he believes the organization has the “best intentions”, but are only a small percentage of the total plastic enter the oceans per year.

“Eight million tons of [waste] entering the world’s oceans every year,” Schwartz told Fox News. “Their project can be wildly successful cleaning of the outside, but they are only concerned with a minuscule percentage.”

Schwartz, who has met with members of The Ocean Cleanup and toured their test facility, explains that he hopes that the project is a huge success.” However, he has concerns with some of the rhetoric of the group spreads.


The Ocean Cleanup estimates they will be able to get rid of about 90 percent of ocean plastic in every ocean gyre — large parts of the ocean where the swirling currents concentrate trash can — in 2040.

These mind-boggling statistics relating to some experts, such as Schwartz.

“My biggest concern is not the project itself, it is the messages that is coming from,” Schwartz explained. “They are cleaning only the surface. We see the plastic in the water columns, at the bottom of the sea, deposited in the polar ice caps. The problem is much, much, much larger than the coverage suggests.”

Instead of skimming the surface, Schwartz suggested addressing the root of the problem and educating the public about what they can do to help prevent trash from escaping into the environment.

Richard Thompson, head of the International Litter Research Unit of the University of Plymouth in great britain, echoed Schwartz’s advice.

“The way the ocean works, I think it would be almost impossible that there is zero impact on the marine fauna of this device to trap everything to the surface.”

– Eben Schwartz

“If we take into consideration the clean up to a center point of the solution, then we can accept that it’s OK to pollute the oceans and that of our children and our children’s children will continue to clean up the mess,” Halden told USA Today.

Schwartz said many of the volunteers get to see first hand the negative impact single-use plastic disposable products to create during the California Coastal Cleanup Day, the state’s largest annual volunteer event, which is taking place this year on 15 September.


“We have seen a dramatic increase in the knowledge of people about the causes of litter effects for the end of the cleanup,” said Schwartz, adding that The Ocean Cleanup should consider hosting similar educational events.

Schwartz also worried about the impact the Ocean Cleanup’s project will have on the marine life. The clearance of the vessel, which is made of a set of connected pipes, will hang from a 9 metres long, just under help trap waste.

The Ocean Cleanup is the deployment of a ship made of multiple pipes between California and Hawaii to capture waste at the surface.

(The Ocean Cleanup)

“The way the ocean works, I think it would be almost impossible that there is zero impact on the marine fauna of this device to trap everything in the area,” Schwartz explained. “It will intercept krill, plankton … and that makes it a potential breeding ground for animals.”

The Cleanup Project, but defended her model and suggests there are different systems for the protection of marine life.

The ship slow speed, impermeable screen, and the people checking for signs of marine life, as the screen is lifted out of the water helps prevent any victims, The Cleanup Project states.

“We have also carried out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) by an independent agency, CSA Ocean Sciences, which is not the identification of the main risks of our method for the environment,” the group added.

The Ocean Cleanup not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for a further explanation about the project Tuesday afternoon.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jennifer Earl is an SEO editor for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @jenearlyspeakin.

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