Green - Ocean-Cleaning Boom So Far A Bust
The inventor of a huge, trash-collecting boom that was designed to scoop plastic trash out of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is hoping that 2019 will be a better year.
The 2,000 foot long device Ocean Cleanup couldn't take the battering from constant wind and waves in the Pacific Ocean and has broken apart. The pieces are being towed to Hawaii. Inventor and project leader Boyan Slat said if it cannot be repaired in Hawaii, it will be put on a ship and taken back to Alameda, California, just across the bay from San Francisco.
"This is an entirely new category of machine that is out there in extremely challenging conditions," said 24-year-old Dutch inventor, "We always took into account that we might have to take it back and forth a few times. So it's really not a significant departure from the original plan."
There was a lot of hope in the idea in September when the device was towed out to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of trash floating between California and Hawaii. The boom, nick-named "Wilson" or System 001, was supposed to have corralled and scooped up ocean trash.
But it's coming back practically empty-handed according to the Ocean Cleanup team's projections: Slat says it scooped 4,400 pounds of floating debris, which isn't even a dent in the 1.8 trillion human-made items fouling the ocean in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Some ocean advocates believe that all of the attention paid to Ocean Cleanup takes away from tried and true environmental successes thet relied on preventing pollution rather than chasing after it.
"There's only limited time and resources that the public and policymakers have on this issue," says Marcus Eriksen, the cofounder of the 5 Gyres Institute, an organization committed to ending plastic pollution. "We need all hands on deck to focus on prevention. What the Ocean Cleanup is doing is taking public attention away from that fact."