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Ocean Cleanup recovered a space shuttle weight in plastics

Ocean Cleanup founder Boyan Slat says his plastic recovery operation has reached an ‘exciting’ milestone by removing more than 100 tonnes of plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

System 002, nicknamed Jenny, has collected 101.353 tonnes of plastic since being deployed in August 2021. Slat says it has completed more than 45 extractions, sweeping an area of ocean of over 3 000 km2 that is comparable to the size of Luxembourg or Rhode Island.

The initial prototype collected 7.173 tonnes so, overall, Ocean Cleanup has now collected 108.526 tonnesof plastic. ‘This is more than the combined weight of two-and-a-half Boeing 737-800s or the dry weight of a space shuttle,’ Slat points out.

According to a 2018 study in which the company mapped the patch, it is estimated to contain between 79 000 and 100 000 tonnes. ‘If we repeat this 100 tonne-haul a thousand times the Great Pacific Garbage Patch will be gone,’ Slat claims.

‘I’m proud of The Ocean Cleanup team for crossing this milestone, which is all the more remarkable considering System 002 is still an experimental system,’ he says. ‘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 ten times higher than System 002 through a combination of increased size, improved efficiency, and increased uptime.’

The launch of System 03 is due soon.

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