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Incredibly ambitious Ocean Cleanup project is launching this weekend

The Ocean Cleanup Technology, Explained

Big problems call for equally big solutions. That maxim will be put into practice this weekend when a multimillion dollar project called The Ocean Cleanup launches a giant floating vessel aimed at removing the largest accumulation of plastic in the world from a stretch of ocean referred to as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The brainchild of 24-year-old Dutch inventor Boyan Slat, The Ocean Cleanup is a foundation that develops technology for extracting plastic pollution from our oceans. It has been working toward this goal for several years now, but Saturday marks the day the initiative begins in earnest. That’s when the organization will unleash its giant 2,000 foot, U-shaped passive collection system, intended to gather up garbage consuming around 600,000 square miles of ocean between California and Hawaii.

Using just this one trash collector, the goal is to extract around 50 tons of plastic from the ocean each year. This will then be removed from the water, and shipped off for recycling. Eventually, the goal is to have an entire fleet of similar vessels, capable of pulling a combined 14,000 tons of plastic from the oceans every year.

The Ocean Cleanup

To mark the launch of the first trash-collecting leviathan being towed towed through the San Francisco Bay, underneath the Golden Gate Bridge on its way to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the organization is hosting a press conference on Pier 41. The event is being livestreamed at 11 a.m. PT on Saturday for anyone interested in viewing the start of what should be a transformative mission.

“The reason that we are livestreaming the event is that we want to share this important moment with as many people as possible,” a spokesperson for The Ocean Cleanup told Digital Trends. “Six years of testing and developing has led up to this. During this time, the Ocean Cleanup has evolved from a sketch on a paper napkin by a 16-year-old to an organization that has raised millions, and has more than 80 staff. This is a unique moment in history, and we are finally starting this ambitious project.”

Will it work as planned? We’ll have to wait and see. One thing that’s for sure, though, is that there’s no shortage of ambition on display here. If that can be translated into results, then the world’s oceans are about to become a much cleaner, less trash-filled place.

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Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
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