First Ocean Cleanup System Launched to Deal with Massive Plastic Bag Problem

A Dutch nonprofit organization has just launched the first artificial coastline system to help clean up the massive amount of plastic bags gathering in the ocean.

Environmentalists have talking about the problem for years’ a mass of garbage floating in the ocean the size of Texas. The bulk of that mass is disposable plastic bags, and it’s wreaking havoc on the environment and the marine life forced to live with it. But a Dutch company, The Ocean Cleanup Foundation, has created the first artificial coastline and launched it as a test run. Thecurrent system is 100 meters wide and is being tested to see whether it can stand up to ocean currents and gale force winds. If so, they plan to launch a 100 kilometer long system in 2020. That effort will take place between the west coast and Hawaii.

“Disposable plastic bags are a real threat to our environment,” says a seller of reusable shopping bags. “And the problem has been ignored for so long that it’s become almost unsolvable.”

According to a report issued by the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, there are currently more than 150 million metric tons of plastic in the ocean. What’s worse, that same report estimates that if things don”t change, by the 2050, there will be more plastics in the ocean than fish.

“The problem seems overwhelming,” says the spokesman, “but if everyone just did their part, we could probably get the situation under control. For example, for every family that switches to using reusable shopping bags, that’s 1,500 less plastic bags each and every year that will be discarded into the environment. That can add up quickly.”

The artificial coastline, which is shaped like the letter “V” acts as a passive system to collect and gather together garbage in the ocean. The garbage will then be brought ashore and recycled. The organization says there’s a 30 percent change the system won’t be able to withstand extreme weather conditions, but it’s a first step in combating a massive problem.

Boyan Slat, the CEO of the organization says “The Ocean Cleanup is an inspiring example of how we can tackle the growing problem of ocean pollution. I hope that with the help of the Dutch government, Boyan’s prototype will turn out to be the successful solution for cleaning up the mid-ocean gyres,” Dutch Environment Minister Sharon Dijksma said in a statement. “This is crucial to prevent permanent damage to the environment and marine life, due to the degradation and fragmentation of plastic waste materials.”

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