• Latest phase in the Ocean Cleanup Project begins

Water Monitoring

Latest phase in the Ocean Cleanup Project begins

Nov 02 2023

In the persistent battle against marine plastic pollution, The Ocean Cleanup has unveiled its most ambitious project yet – System 03. The latest development in oceanic plastic removal technology, this system promises to redefine our approach to cleansing the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP). 

System 03 is not just another device; it is a massive leap in The Ocean Cleanup’s innovative journey. Boasting a wing length of approximately 2.2 km, the system is nearly threefold the size of its predecessor, System 002. This size is essential, considering the GPGP spans an area approximately thrice the size of France. 

But what makes System 03 unique? A considerable portion of floating plastic lies about 4 meters below the water surface. System 03’s extended screen delves into this depth, ensuring that a significant portion of this submerged plastic is captured. 

After System 002's success, which saw over 250,000 kg of plastic extracted from the GPGP between 2021 and 2023, expectations from System 03 are high. The newer system aims to not just match, but exponentially enhance the extraction rate of its predecessor. 

Getting to the heart of the GPGP is no easy feat, requiring a five-day voyage. Two vessels, the Maersk Tender and the Maersk Trader, accompany System 03 on this journey. Once the destination is reached, the vessels tow System 03 at a pace akin to a leisurely walk, leveraging AI and monitoring data to traverse through the highest density plastic zones. 

Plastic debris is funnelled into the Retention Zone, an enormous holding section. When filled, the contents are transferred onto one of the vessels, segregated, and packed, ready to be transformed into something new. 

The Ocean Cleanup is not just about extraction; it's about sustainability. Plastics, once removed, undergo recycling and are reincarnated as sustainable products. An exciting collaboration with Kia saw GPGP-extracted plastic integrated into their new electric vehicles. Earlier, the Ocean Cleanup Sunglasses, made from the plastic harvested by System 001/B, became a testament to turning waste into wonder. 

The objective is clear: prevent extracted plastic from returning to the marine ecosystem. With collaborations allowing brands to utilize this plastic, the goal of a circular solution to marine plastic pollution is closer to realization. 

System 03 integrates advanced measures to ensure marine life remains undisturbed. One such innovation is the MASH (Marine Animal Safety Hatch), a unique exit mechanism for any marine animal inadvertently caught. Together with a sophisticated camera system that monitors the Retention Zone, these measures reaffirm The Ocean Cleanup's commitment to the marine environment. 

With System 02 evolving into System 03, the focus has always been on improvement. Every iteration is a reflection of learnings from the previous, ensuring that efficiency, safety, and effectiveness are paramount. 

While System 03 is a landmark, the vision is grander. A fleet of such systems is envisaged to comprehensively cleanse the GPGP. As the blueprint for future endeavours, System 03 is just the beginning. 

Beyond the oceans, The Ocean Cleanup is also directing efforts towards intercepting plastic inflow from rivers. With Interceptor systems across multiple rivers, including locations like Los Angeles and Kingston, the dual strategy aims to tackle the issue at both ends – the source and the accumulation. 

The journey that began a decade ago in 2013 has only grown in passion, commitment, and scale. The Ocean Cleanup, under the leadership of founder and CEO Boyan Slat, has continually broken barriers in marine conservation. With the support from significant contributors, like the recent generous donation from Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia, the future looks promising. 

As the world eagerly awaits the deployment of System 03, the question on everyone's mind is: What's the next big thing from The Ocean Cleanup? Only time will tell, but given their track record, it promises to be revolutionary. 

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AET 28.2 April/May 2024

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