Trash in the oceans is truly an international problem and finally a novel solution is being applied to the problem, one involving million of dollars. A floating boom has been designed to corral plastic debris that is presently littering the Pacific Ocean.
This 2000-foot long unmanned structure is the product of a non-profit company that aims to trap up to 150,000 pounds of plastic during the first year of the boom. With dozens of booms there is hope that half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch can be cleaned. The patch is located between California and Hawaii and it is estimated to comprise 1.8 trillion pieces of detritus of which there is at least 87,000 tons of plastic.
How the boom will operate is simple; once the boom is detached from the vessel that brings it to the patch the current will pull the boom into a “U” shape. As it drifts along helped in this by the waves and the wind it should trap plastics. The captured plastic would be transported back to land and then recycled. The boom has a skirt that can catch small pieces of plastic but marine life can pass underneath.
Still, there is worry as to how the boom will fare in the ocean where it will face high winds as well as corrosive salt water and other challenges. And of course, can it really pick up half of the garbage patch in only five years?
Naturally one should not see this boom as the miracle solution to the plastic problem. It is necessary to prevent more plastics from coming into the oceans of course, but starting a clean-up is also necessary, even if we are obviously only iin the beginning stages.