Image from The Ocean Cleanup.
I simply cannot stop writing about The Ocean Cleanup – in the best possible way. I’ve already highlighted the awesome things this organization is doing to eliminate ocean plastics five freaking times (also: here & here) and officially awarded them my (very unofficial) first annual Raddy Award for the R.A.D. as Hell series. Each time I check in with them it gets better and better, and this week is no exception.
To start, last week they celebrated the return to shore of the first plastic collected from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It’s been a little over a year since the launch of the inaugural System 001, a year spent in trial, iteration, and finally grand success on the shores of Vancouver, Canada. Now they face the challenge of not only turning that plastic into recycled products, but also scaling up their fleet of garbage collectors to reach their goal of removing 90% of ocean plastic by 2040. Still, they’ve definitely earned a moment of self-congratulation.
Second, they’ve recently expanded their reach with a whole new device for removing plastic pollution from rivers. Dubbed ‘Interceptors’ (why do they get a cool name and the ocean ones are ‘System 001’, etc.), the clever barges use a series of booms to funnel plastic onto a conveyor belt for collection and recycling. According to The Ocean Cleanup, 1,000 of the world’s roughly 100,000 rivers are responsible for 80% of plastic in the ocean and they plan to get an Interceptor in each one. It’s so freaking rad that they’re tackling river pollution; after all, what’s the point of cleaning up the ocean if it’s just gonna get gunked up again? Of course, the ideal situation is a global societal shift away from our garbage-generating culture, but this is a much needed band-aid while we work on that problem.
The message to all of us is clear: be less wasteful. But, in the meantime we have The Ocean Cleanup to help us out.