WATCH: 100,000kg of plastic removed from Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch

The Ocean Cleanup has now officially removed more than 100,000kg of plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP).

Since deployment in August 2021, the project’s ocean-cleaning System 002 has now collected 101,353kg of plastic over 45 extractions, sweeping an area of ocean of over 3,000km2 – comparable to the size of Luxembourg or Rhode Island.

Added to the 7,173 kg of plastic captured by The Ocean Cleanup’s previous prototype systems, it has now collected 108,526kg of plastic from the GPGP – more than the combined weight of two and a half Boeing 737-800s, or the dry weight of a space shuttle, according to the team.

The GPGP, which is located between Hawaii and California, covers an area three times the size of France, or twice the size of Texas.

According to the organisation’s 2018 study in which it mapped the garbage patch, the total amount of accumulated plastic is 79,000,000kg, or 100,000,000kg if the Outer GPGP is included. Thus, if the team repeats this 100,000kg haul 1,000 times – the Great Pacific Garbage Patch will be gone.

But the team is developing a larger pollution collecting system to improve the sweep and reduce the number of deployments needed to clean up the water.

The Ocean Cleanup states: ‘Now our technology is validated, we are ready to move on to our new and expanded System 03, which is expected to capture plastic at a rate potentially 10 times higher than System 002 through a combination of increased size, improved efficiency, and increased uptime.’

The transition to System 03 is starting soon and System 03 will be three times the size of System 002.

According to the organisation, one could, in theory, clean the entire GPGP with a fleet of the current System 002 designs – but it would prove impossibly expensive.

‘When it comes to cleaning the oceans, size matters. Bigger systems mean fewer support vessels, which are the main cost driver (and the main carbon emitter) in our operations. In short, bigger systems mean a lower cost/kg.’

Graph showing The Ocean Cleanup Ocean System Timeline-