The Ocean Cleanup Brings First Catch of Plastic to Shore, Unveils New Project

The Ocean Cleanup has brought the first batch of ocean plastic to shore following its first mission in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Image Courtesy: The Ocean Cleanup

This plastic trash will be transformed into sustainable products that will be sold to help fund the continuation of the cleanup operations, Boyan Slat, Founder and CEO of the Dutch organization announced.

“Welcoming the first catch of plastic on land is the moment we have been looking forward to for years. I believe we can use this trash to turn a problem into a solution by transforming this unique material into a beautiful product,” Slat remarked on the upcoming plans of The Ocean Cleanup.

“As most people will never go to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, through these products, we aim to give everyone the opportunity to take part in the cleanup.”

To confirm the origin of these future plastic products, The Ocean Cleanup has worked with classification society DNV GL to verify plastic that is removed from the ocean.

In October 2019, The Ocean Cleanup said it was successfully capturing and collecting plastic debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch with its System 001/B.

Since the launch of the first cleanup system, System 001, in September 2018, most items on the long list of deliverables for the technology could be checked one-by-one. Early reports showed, however, that System 001 was not retaining plastic as it should, and despite attempts to remedy this and successful design confirmations, the system suffered a fatigue fracture, resulting in a need to return the system to shore in January 2019.

After redesigning a modifying the system, The Ocean Cleanup deployed the upgraded system, System 001/B, in June 2019.

From Pollution to Product

The Ocean Cleanup has, from its start, planned to create a value chain on the basis of the collected debris, with the aim of funding continued cleanup operations. The organization has now unveiled its intention to develop sustainable products made from material collected in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The return to shore of the first plastic catch marks the beginning of this journey. This will be the first attempt to produce products fully made from plastic taken out of the ocean, according to The Ocean Cleanup.

If all goes well, the organization expects to launch this premier product made from material collected in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in September 2020.

Verifying Ocean Plastic

Currently, it is not compulsory for an independent third party to verify that materials have been sourced from the ocean, and products labeled as “ocean plastic” may not be entirely sourced from the ocean.

To add further transparency to their work, the origin of the material used in The Ocean Cleanup’s products will be verified by DNV GL. Over the last year and a half, DNV GL has been developing a standard that allows a high level of traceability, clarifies how ocean plastic is defined and brings transparency to this fast-growing market.

As informed, the new standard will be open to all parties interested in ocean-plastic product certification and will ensure that the origin of recovered plastics is defined and verified, allowing consumers to have trust that the product they are purchasing was made from material removed from the ocean.

“When purchasing products verified by DNV GL, consumers can fully trust that it is an ocean plastic product and that they are contributing to the solution,” Luca Crisciotti, CEO of DNV GL-Business Assurance, noted.

Image Courtesy: The Ocean Cleanup
Image Courtesy: The Ocean Cleanup

With the conclusion of Mission One, The Ocean Cleanup has begun preparations for their next system, System 002. The aim of this new design is to create a full-scale, fully operational system that is able to both endure and retain the collected plastic for long periods of time.

System 002 will be a key stepping stone to full-scale cleanup of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the organization believes.