Founded in 2013 by then 18-year-old Boyan Slat, The Ocean Cleanup has now grown to employ approximately 65 engineers and researchers who believe the cleaning of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch will start within the next 12 months.

For a little background, The Ocean Cleanup designs and develops advanced technologies to try and remove plastic from the oceans. They say that their "purpose is to drive the largest cleanup in history through the large-scale, efficient and environmentally-sound removal of plastic pollution from aquatic ecosystems." And how far along are they with their plans?

In a recent press release, The Ocean Cleanup announced that the extracting of plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch will begin within the next year with parts of its first cleanup system already in production. Through their research they say they increased the efficiency of the system, so according to computer models, The Ocean Cleanup will be able to remove 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in just 5 years.

The way the system is supposed to work is to let the ocean currents take their natural course and let them do the job. The modular cleanup system of 50 U-shaped screens will not be fixed to the seabed, they will insted use sea anchors so they can move slower than the plastic. The screens will direct floating plastic to a central point, where all of it will be extracted and moved to shore for recycling into durable products. 

Testing of the first system is set to take place off the American west coast by the end of 2017, however the first deployment in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is planned for the first half of 2018. The Ocean Cleanup also stated that, if all goes to current plans, their mission will become reality two years ahead of schedule.

May 22, 2017 Living photo: Erwin Zwart/The Ocean Cleanup

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