The plastic-collecting “artificial coastline” has temporarily returned to Victoria after a six-week test voyage at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Two ships holding the Ocean Cleanup’s latest plastic-collection system – known as Jenny – docked at Ogden Point earlier this month to allow the crew to restock for another six-week journey to the Garbage Patch.
While out at the Patch, the system was operational for just shy of 120 hours across three trials, ranging from a day to two days. The test run saw more than eight tons of plastics removed from Pacific Ocean waters.
To collect the plastic, the two boats pull the 800-metre, U-shaped system through waste hotspot areas in the water. The plastics then feed into a “retention zone” that’s about the size of a school bus. When the zone is full, cranes aboard the ships lift Jenny out of the water and empty the plastics onto the deck.
Joost Dubois, Ocean Cleanup’s head of communication, watched as members of the 45-person crew lifted supply crates onto the ships on Sept. 8. He said the maiden test voyage was largely about working through any kinks and seeing what challenges would arise out on the open ocean.
Dubois joined the Ocean Cleanup project because, as a sailor, he saw how plastic pollution was getting worse out on the seas. As the crew prepared for another voyage, he sees progress.
“All the steps that we’ve been making to finally get to this level, it’s quite exciting,” he said. “We’re very close to feeling ready to step out and say it works, because we’re going to do it, we’re going to scale up.”
The next trip will be more focused on collecting and will be highlighted by towing Jenny through the patch for five days straight – a run that Dubois said should fill the retention zone.
“This next trip is an exciting one because that’s where we’re really going to be close to operational,” he said.
Boyan Slat, the organization’s founder and CEO, said with just a few test runs in the bag, their system is looking very promising.
“If everything goes well, we might be able to see a system just completely filled with plastic during those tests and, of course, that’s something we’ve been looking forward to for all these years,” he said in an update on social media. “It will really be the proof of the pudding, that it’s truly working and that we have a tool to clean up the patch.”
The Ocean Cleanup vessels look to depart Victoria this weekend, before returning in late October.
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