October 12, 2019 2 min read

Doyle Rice, USA TODAY

It's working! The "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" cleanup is finally underway.

"Our ocean cleanup system is now finally catching plastic, from one-ton ghost nets to tiny microplastics," Boyan Slat, 25, the Dutch inventor and university dropout who created the Ocean Cleanup Project, tweeted Wednesday.

His cleanup system failed in late December when a 60-foot length of the device broke off. That necessitated towing the entire 2,000-foot device back to Hawaii for testing and inspection.

The cleanup system includes a barrier that holds a 10-foot screen below it to catch plastics without interfering with marine life, The Guardian reported. 

The self-contained system uses natural currents of the sea to passively collect plastic debris in an effort to reduce waste in the ocean.

The project was started in 2013, and its design has undergone several major revisions. It is hoped the final design will be able to clean up half of the debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, The Guardian said.

The results are promising enough to begin designing a second system to send to the garbage patch. Slat sounded a note of caution: “If the journey to this point taught us anything, it is that it's definitely not going to be easy.”

Garbage patch: World's largest collection of ocean garbage is twice the size of Texas

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a collection of plastic, floating trash halfway between Hawaii and California, is more than 600,000 square miles in size. That's twice the size of Texas and is the largest collection of plastic in the world's oceans. 

First discovered in the early 1990s, the trash in the patch comes from around the Pacific Rim, including nations in Asia and North and South America.


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