Week 4: The Great Pacific Cleanup
Hello and welcome back to my blog.
A couple weeks ago I summarized a massive pollution problem called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP). This week I would like to give you an update on what has been going on with the Garbage Patch in terms of the response to this problem. Ocean Cleanup is an organization that currently works to collect trash from the GPGP and bring those pieces back to shore where Ocean Cleanup recycles plastic products and burns non-plastic products. Ocean Cleanup originally has committed many different approaches but didn’t really have much success. However in 2018, they tried a more passive approach to collecting trash by having a tube with a net hanging below it drifting at the surface of the ocean collecting trash but due to heavy waves the tube would lose the trash that it’s holding onto. In 2019, Ocean Cleanup tried a different method by placing sea anchors below the net to have the tube move slowly and not let the trash go so easily but it didn’t have much success either. In 2021, Ocean Cleanup made a new design by having two boats pull the tube collecting trash which turned out to be more effective. Once the boats collected some trash, they would bring the trash collected to a larger ship then be brought to shore where the garbage would be sorted and properly disposed of. These are the benefits of what Ocean Cleanup has done but it’s not that simple when you see it from a different perspective.
The negatives when it comes to this system are mainly focused around money expenses and how the trash is managed. The system that Ocean Cleanup uses today, it costs mainly around 15 to 20 thousand dollars per day for both ships to pull the tube. When it comes to the trash that is collected, after sorting the garbage, the plastic is recycled and able to be reused but trash that isn’t able to be recycled or repurposed is burned in incinerators which as a result releases toxic chemicals into the air that we humans breathe. These are the downsides to the system of cleaning up the GPGP.
Just by seeing Ocean Cleanup trying to clean the ocean, it’s not that easy to clean the oceans. Instead it’s more dependent on us to not produce so much plastic and prevent as much plastic as we can from entering the ocean. That’s the best way to start lowering the amount of plastic in the ocean. That was my research for this week, until next week’s blog.