Cleanup crews return to B.C. marking ‘major milestone’ in mission to rid oceans of trash

Click to play video: 'New technology collects 28,000+ kg of plastic from Pacific Ocean'
New technology collects 28,000+ kg of plastic from Pacific Ocean
A non-profit organization says its new techology has collected tens of thousand of kilograms of plastic from the Pacific Ocean. The group's vessel returned to victoria today.And Kylie Stanton has more on what was discovered in the waters - and what's next for The Ocean Cleanup. – Oct 20, 2021

A non-profit environmental group is celebrating a “major milestone” in the effort to rid the world’s oceans of garbage.

On Wednesday, two vessels from The Ocean Cleanup returned to shore in Victoria, B.C., with proof that their experimental trash collection system — an 800-metre device towed between them — is an effective tool.

“We have seen that the system safely interacted with marine life during the off-shore campaign,” said Henk Van Dalen, the group’s ocean director.

“Most importantly, we have shown that we are capable to repeatedly harvest large amounts of plastic.”

The non-profit’s research took aim at a well-known collection of floating debris called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Located halfway between Hawaii and California, it is the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world.

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According to The Ocean Cleanup, previous sampling has recorded more than 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic in the patch, weighing an estimated 80,000 tonnes.

Over 12 weeks and nine test extractions, the group’s two vessels collected a total of 28,659 kilograms of plastic from the water.

Click to play video: 'Crew studying Great Pacific Garbage Patch returns'
Crew studying Great Pacific Garbage Patch returns

Lost and discarded fishing gear — also known as ghost gear — made up the bulk of the haul, the team said Wednesday. But the vessels also reeled in toilet seats, toothbrushes, laundry baskets, shoes, and more.

“It still would have floated out there – 10 years from now, 50 years from now, probably even 100 years from now,” said The Ocean Cleanup CEO Boyan Slat.

“This stuff is so persistent and that’s of course, precisely the reason why we have to go and clean it up.”

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The non-profit group, based in The Netherlands, hopes to eradicate both the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the world’s other four offshore plastic accumulation zones.

It hopes its recent trails and proof of concept will it help it accomplish its mission.

“The ultimate goal is to remove ninety percent of all floating plastic in the five oceanic garbage patches by 2040,” said communications director Joost Dubois in Victoria.

The returning vessels were welcomed to the B.C. capital on Wednesday by a fleet of local vessels, including search and rescue watercraft and oil spill response teams.

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