The Ocean Cleanup’s trash-collecting barriers have been through a number of iterations since their conception around five years ago. The latest, and final version that will be towed out to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch later in the year, cleverly harnesses the power of wind and surface waves to autonomously sweep through the area, gathering up plastic waste as it goes.
Some serious research and development has gone into perfecting the team’s approach to the monumental problem of plastic waste in the ocean. It originally involved using stationary booms and the ocean’s natural currents to passively collect the plastic that washed into its waiting arms.
Those booms were going to be held in place by anchors on the seafloor at a depth of around 4 km (2.5 mi), but this would have made the system very vulnerable to storms (plus the fact that kind of depth goes far beyond what is currently possible in terms of mooring).
A recent redesign imagined still using anchors, but hanging them from the system at a depth of around 600 m (2,000 ft). This would allow the system to drift along with the current, but more slowly than the plastic waste, which would then accumulate in the slow-moving skirts that hang below the floating booms.