The Ocean Cleanup: Progress and Setbacks

A few years ago, young Boyan Slat began work on the Ocean Cleanup project. Despite a recent setback, Slat remains optimistic.

A few years ago, young entrepreneur Boyan Slat told the world he wanted to clean the plastic from the ocean. Although his idea was met with some skepticism, his Ocean Cleanup project has been progressing. Unfortunately, it’s hit a few snags in recent months. Despite these setbacks, however, Slat remains optimistic about the project’s potential.

 System test and setbacks

In October 2018, after an extensive test phase, the company deployed the first cleanup system in the Pacific Ocean.


The project, unfortunately, almost immediately hit a snag. Reports came in that although the system was collecting the plastic, it was not retaining it all. The team reported that they were working on a solution for this problem. The device has always aimed to keep the plastic waste within it before being collected.

A second setback occurred when a section of the system detached while it was deployed, and the trial was cut short. Being far away from shore in a difficult environment, it seems that it was impossible to carry repairs out at sea and therefore the entire device has been brought back to shore to work on a solution. Slat has announced that they will redeploy the system as soon as they have carried out necessary repairs and as weather conditions allow. Slat said that although it was a disappointment, the team was not discouraged by this issue.

Genesis of the Ocean Cleanup Array

The idea seemed simple: create a 1,900-foot-long (600 m) floating system that would sit on the surface of the ocean and collect plastic inside the skirt attached below. But with an innovative project like this one, testing and adjusting of the system is bound to take time and effort.

The Ocean Cleanup organization seems confident that after some modifications and adjustments, 2019 is the year when they can redeploy the system in the Pacific Ocean to start cleaning the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. They estimate that within five years they could clean up to 50 percent of the plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean.

You can follow the updates of the Ocean Cleanup and support their project on their website.