Accelerating Toward a Plastic Free Pacific (By Slowing Down)

Image from the Ocean Cleanup in the below article.

Parts one, two, and three of this series here.

The Ocean Cleanup: Into the Twilight Zone

It feels like it’s been getting harder and harder to find some ocean positivity to share with you all (also, this week everything is dominated – as it absolutely should be – by the Amazon burning). Then I remembered the good folks at the Ocean Cleanup and their mission to eliminate the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP). God bless them, they just keep on trucking – testing and iterating on their System 001 (now System 001/B – ooooooh) for capturing oceanic plastic – no matter that the rest of the world can’t figure its shit out.

Earlier this month, the Ocean Cleanup solved one of their persistent problems: the system failed to maintain a constant speed. If the system moves faster than the floating plastic, it scoops the plastic up and retains it. If it moves slower, the plastic drifts in itself and is likewise trapped. But if it speeds up and then slows down all over the place, plastic escapes. After testing a number of solutions for normalizing the speed, they determined a sea anchor (a parachute towed in the water behind the system) brought it to the Goldilocks speed: juuuuuust right for capturing the most plastic. Of course, new problems have arisen (with potential solutions already in the works), but the Ocean Cleanup is inching ever closer to eliminating the GPGP and restoring the ocean to its natural, R.A.D. state!

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