A 2,000-foot-long floating boom just left San Francisco on its way to the Pacific Garbage Patch, a gyre of trash between California and Hawaii, with 1.8 trillion pieces of garbage, including 87,000 tons of plastic. The Pacific Garbage Patch is about three times the size of France.
The unmanned boom was towed by a ship from the nonprofit Ocean Cleanup, an organization founded by Boyan Slat, a 24-year-old Dutch inventor. Once on site, the boom will detach from the towing vessel. The current is expected to pull it into a U shape, which will trap the plastic as it is propelled by the wind and current. The plastic would then be carried back to land and sorted and recycled.
A ten-foot skirt hangs below the boom to catch smaller pieces of plastic. Ocean Cleanup says that fish and other marine life will be able to pass underneath. However, some scientists worry that the boom will catch fish also. “You can’t remove the plastic without removing marine life at the same time,” George Leonard, the chief scientist at the Ocean Conservancy told The New York Times. Read more: