Follow Up: Cleaning Our Oceans – With Plastic?

Sustainability |  2 min. read

Earlier this fall, we told you about the Ocean Cleanup Project setting sail out into the Pacific.  The idea?  A sort of giant plastic broom (made possible by petrochemicals) to ‘sweep up’ plastic floating out in the ocean.

Today we wanted to update you on the project.

Step one, was a test run a few hundred miles off the California coast, just to see if the thing worked, period (like float, or sink).  (The “thing”, is 2000 feet of plastic tubing, that floats on the surface, and as the wind and the waves bend it into a U-shape, “sweeps” up the ocean plastic in front of it.  You can read more about how it works, in our original story.)

Did you know?

Petrochemicals are used to make a lot more than just giant ocean brooms. See more of the remarkable technological advances and innovations made possible by petrochemicals here.

And step one, was a success (it floated, and did the other things it was supposed to do).

Step two, was on to what’s called the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, a big swirl of plastic farther out in the Pacific – and put the broom to work for real.

So far, they are scooping up plastic (including pieces smaller than expected), no harm observed so far to fish and other marine life (that was as expected), and on occasion, a piece of plastic “escapes” the broom (why, they don’t know yet).  Which means the big sweep is off to a promising start.

(Once it’s swept up, by the way, the plastic will be loaded on ship, brought ashore, and processed for re-use – turning it from rubbish into raw material.)

You can follow along yourself at Ocean Cleanup Project (they’re also on Twitter and Facebook, of course).