• A plastic hotspot in the Pacific Ocean

    The Great Pacific garbage patch (also Pacific trash vortex) is a garbage patch, a gyre of marine debris particles, in the central North Pacific Ocean. It is located roughly from 135°W to 155°W and 35°N to 42°N.
    Research indicates that the patch is rapidly accumulating. The patch is believed to have increased "10-fold each decade" since 1945. Estimated to be double the size of Texas, the area contains more than 3 million short tons (2.7 million metric tons) of plastic. The gyre contains approximately six pounds of plastic for every pound of plankton. A similar patch of floating plastic debris is found in the Atlantic Ocean, called the North Atlantic garbage patch. This growing patch contributes to other environmental damage to marine ecosystems and species.
  • Marine pollution

    The Great Pacific garbage patch formed gradually as a result of ocean or marine pollution gathered by ocean currents. It occupies a relatively stationary region of the North Pacific Ocean bounded by the North Pacific Gyre in the horse latitudes. The gyre's rotational pattern draws in waste material from across the North Pacific, incorporating coastal waters off North America and Japan. As the material is captured in the currents, wind-driven surface currents gradually move debris toward the center, trapping it.
    There are obvious manifestations of the impact of a giant accumulation of plastic in the middle of the ocean. For example, sea animals - turtles, and dolphins - get entangled in non-rotting fishing nets. Of course, they are not able to take them off - if the net is wrapped around the legs and neck of a young turtle, when it grows up, the net will strangle it.
    In addition, small hollow products (caps from plastic bottles, for example) appetizingly shine on the water surface and often become prey for fish and birds, clogging their stomachs up and condemning the animals to a painful death. Volunteer groups on the shores of the Pacific Ocean are trying to combat this by catching the birds and giving them vomiting medication to cleanse their bodies. But, of course, not everyone can be saved. As a result, the millions of birds living there - about 90 percent - already have plastic inside them.
  • Improper waste disposal or management of trash

    According to a 2011 EPA report, a major source of marine debris is improper disposal or management of trash and debris products, including plastics. Debris is generated on land at marinas, ports, rivers, harbors, docks, and storm drains. Garbage also enters the sea from fishing boats, fixed platforms, and cargo ships. The constituent particles range in size from abandoned fishing nets several miles long to microgranules used in cosmetics and abrasive cleaners.
  • Plastic garbage affects human health

    The greatest danger is microplastics, which are produced by the destruction of polymers - because they can not decompose, only disintegrate into smaller and smaller pieces. When plastic breaks down in the sun, it releases phthalates which are oncogenic substances, i.e. they can cause cancer. Some types of polymers can release bisphenols, which affect sexual functions, including humans. 
    In the trash, however, everything is boiled in the sun and decays under the influence of microorganisms, which, building colonies on the plastic, form microcracks on it, and on top of that, toxins are absorbed on the cracked surface. All this ends up in clams and fish, and at the other end of the food chain is the man. And people eat mussels and oysters together with plastic, which itself will sooner or later leave the body, but will leave poisons in it, which can cause complications in hormonal and other systems in people.


Ocean Cleaning System 001

Of the active attempts to do something, one could mention the System 001 ocean cleaning system, developed by the Dutch company The Ocean Cleanup, a kind of barrier limiting the spread of plastic. According to the idea, it was a self-orienting U-shaped system, functioning with the help of natural factors, which collects plastic inside itself and does not allow it to leave the pollution zone. But even its performance has been criticized. A second modification (System 002) is now being developed as part of the project, but there is still a long way to go before the work is completed. At the same time, there are already technologies that can solve the problem of marine plastic. After all, the utilization of plastic waste on land is a long and successfully solved problem.

Continuous pyrolysis of UTD-2

The quality of plastic, which has been in the water for a long time, of course, will not allow the application of recycling technologies, but for omnivorous thermal technologies, it will not be a problem. A suggested (even impending) solution to the problem: is continuous pyrolysis unit UTD-2. Let us remind you that the essence of the pyrolysis technological process consists heating of the feedstock in an oxygen-deficient atmosphere and following evaporation, cracking, and condensation of the hydrocarbon compounds. Not all types of waste should be recycled by the pyrolysis method, but plastic waste lends itself to the pyrolysis process in the best way possible, with the formation of a maximum useful product and minimum waste in the process. The useful product in the case of plastic recycling is pyrolysis fuel, which is used to maintain the temperature of the process. 

Due to the high calorific value of the plastic waste the unit will quickly reach the regime and then the plastic waste will recycle itself, and this puts pyrolysis unit UTD-2 out of competition in economic efficiency. There is even enough fuel for electric power generation, and it will not be superfluous on the ship. The tandem of the UTD-2 and the Capstone turbine has already been successfully tested; the generator produced its maximum output during the tests.

Transporting waste to the unit or the unit to the waste - this issue in the case of UTD-2 is solved unambiguously. The equipment in its most extended version is mounted in standard 40-foot shipping containers, and placing it on any vessel, even a small tonnage, will not be a problem. The unit has proven to work well on land, and will of course require modifications for sea conditions, especially stormy ones, as the nature of the Pacific Ocean does not do justice to its name at all. On the other hand, due to dissipation by sea winds, the already environmentally friendly installation will cause a minimum of questions regarding the environmental load on the atmosphere.

A system of the ocean cleaning from garbage by autonomous platforms

In 2014, Bojan Slat, a 19-year-old student from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, presented a system for cleaning the ocean of debris with autonomous platforms that float freely in the ocean and catch the debris with flood barriers. Three years earlier, Slat had been diving off the coast of Greece, and he became very excited about the fact that there were more bags than jellyfish floating in the Mediterranean Sea. He decided to dedicate his life to solving the problem of cleaning up the ocean, and along with a team of like-minded people, he did extensive research and raised over $2 million to continue the work through crowdfunding.
Their method uses natural ocean currents and winds that passively carry debris to a collection platform. Solid floating barriers are then used to catch and focus trash from the ocean, eliminating the risk of entangling fish and other wildlife that has happened when collecting trash by other methods, such as nets. Although the method is not cheap (it takes about 32 million euros a year to implement), it is many times cheaper than other proposed cleaning methods.




Ocean cleanup crews have fished out the most trash ever taken from one of the largest garbage patches in the world.

The Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit environmental engineering organization, saw its largest extraction earlier this month by removing about 25,000 pounds of trash from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Alex Tobin, head of public relations and media for the organization, told ABC News.

The vessels are currently on the way back to port in Victoria, British Columbia, after having collected about 50 tons of garbage in four weeks, Tobin said.

It is difficult to determine the exact size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, as the trash is constantly moving, according to NOAA. The Ocean Cleanup has estimated the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to have grown to twice the size of the state of Texas, Tobin said.

It may not be possible to entirely rid the ocean's garbage patches of trash, especially since some of the material will take a long time to break down in the environment, according to NOAA. Plastics may never fully break down.

The Ocean Cleanup aims to remove 90% of floating plastic from the oceans by 2040, which they believe is achievable, Tobin said.

The nonprofit has a two-pronged approach of removing "legacy plastics" and debris before the UV rays break the material down into microplastics, which are nearly impossible to collect. One of the most remarkable items they have pulled is a Vietnam War-era canteen. Other common materials are rigid plastics that float into the ocean and fishing nets, Tobin said.

The system involves two vessels that have a device that skims the water to collect all of the debris.

The environmental group is also working to clear the rivers that feed into the oceans of trash as well to ensure they can clean as much as possible.

By the end of the month, The Ocean Cleanup will launch System 03, a larger version of its current system of floating barriers. Its predecessor, System 02, which was utilized in the most recent mission, is about 875 yards long. The new replacement measures about 2.400 yards long, which will lead to much bigger and more successful catches, Tobin said.

System 03 is capable of clearing the size of a football field every five seconds, about twice the speed of the current system, Tobin said.

The Ocean Cleanup's "System 03" will be nearly three times as long as the previous system, enabling much more trash pickup.

The nonprofit has also been using artificial intelligence computational modeling to locate where the most plastic is in the ocean -- a method they named "plastic hotspot modeling."

During the week-long journey from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch back to port, the trash gets sorted on the ship, and the nonprofit recycles as much material as possible.

The nonprofit then works with partners worldwide to ensure that the products made with the recycled plastic will not end up back in oceans or rivers, Tobin said, adding that one of those partnerships is with a Korean car manufacturer that uses the plastics in the construction of electric vehicles.

"We just want to make sure it doesn't end up back where we found it," Tobin said.


The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is now so huge and permanent that a coastal ecosystem is thriving on it, scientists say.

Scientists have found thriving communities of coastal creatures, including tiny crabs and anemones, living thousands of miles from their original home on plastic debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a 620,000 square-mile swirl of trash in the ocean between California and Hawaii.

In a new study published in the Nature Ecology & Evolution journal, a team of researchers revealed that dozens of species of coastal invertebrate organisms have been able to survive and reproduce on plastic garbage that’s been floating in the ocean for years.

The scientists said that the findings suggest plastic pollution in the ocean might be enabling the creation of new floating ecosystems of species that are not normally able to survive in the open ocean.

Unlike organic material that decomposes and sinks within months or, at most, a few years, plastic debris can float in the oceans for a much longer time, allowing creatures to survive and reproduce in the open ocean for years.

“It was surprising to see how frequent the coastal species were. They were on 70% of the debris that we found,” Linsey Haram, a science fellow at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the study’s lead author, told CNN.

Plastic floats in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
More than 170 trillion plastic particles are found in the ocean as pollution reaches 'unprecedented' levels
Haram and her colleagues examined 105 items of plastic fished out of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch between November 2018 and January 2019. They identified 484 marine invertebrate organisms on the debris, accounting for 46 different species, of which 80% were normally found in coastal habitats.

How exactly the creatures get to the open ocean and how they survive there remains unclear. Whether, for example, they were just hitching a ride on a piece of plastic they attached themselves to by the coast, or whether they were able to colonize new objects once they were in the open ocean, is unknown.

The Ocean Cleanup initiative estimates there are about 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic in the patch that weigh an estimated 80,000 tonnes. The majority of the plastic found in the patch comes from the fishing industry, while between 10% and 20% of the total volume can be traced back to the 2011 Japanese tsunami.


July 15

Discovery of a thriving ecosystem of life at the Great Pacific garbage patch in 2022 suggested that cleaning up garbage here may adversely remove this plastisphere.

In July of 2022, The Ocean Cleanup announced that they had reached a milestone of removing the first 100,000 kg of plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch using "System 002" and announced their transition to "System 03", which is claimed to be 10 times as effective as its predecessor.

March 02

The UN Environment Assembly passed a historic resolution to end plastic pollution and create the world’s first global plastic pollution treaty by 2024 – a legally binding agreement that would address the full life cycle of plastic, from its production and design to its disposal.


July 01

In 2021, The Ocean Cleanup collected 63,182 pounds (28,658 kg) of plastic using their "System 002". The mission started in July 2021 and concluded on October 14, 2021.


January 01

In 2020 over the course of 2 expeditions, Ocean Voyages Institute again set the record for largest cleanup in the "Garbage Patch" removing over 170 tons (340,000 pounds) of plastic from the ocean. The first 45 day expedition removed 103 tons of plastic and the second expedition removed over 67 tons of plastic from the Garbage Patch.


January 01

In 2019 over a 25 day expedition, Ocean Voyages Institute set the record for largest cleanup in the "Garbage Patch" removing over 40 tons (80,000 pounds) of plastic from the ocean.


September 09

On 9 September 2018, the first collection system was deployed to the gyre to begin the collection task. This initial trial run of the Ocean Cleanup Project started towing its "Ocean Cleanup System 001" from San Francisco to a trial site some 240 nautical miles (260 miles) away. The initial trial of the "Ocean Cleanup System 001" ran for four months and provided the research team with valuable information relevant to the designing of the "System 001/B".


April 11

On April 11, 2013, in order to raise awareness, the artist Maria Cristina Finucci founded the State with Landfill at UNESCO - Paris in the presence of the Director-General Irina Bokova . This is the first of a series of events held under the patronage of UNESCO and the Italian Ministry of Environment.


July 01

In July/August 2012 Ocean Voyages Institute conducted a voyage from San Francisco to the Eastern limits of the North Pacific Gyre north, (ultimately ending in Richmond British Columbia) and then made a return voyage that also visited the Gyre. The focus of this expedition was surveying the extent of tsunami debris from the Japanese earthquake tsunami.

In 2012, researchers Goldstein, Rosenberg, and Cheng found that microplastic concentrations in the gyre had increased by two orders of magnitude in the prior four decades.


January 01

In 2010, Ocean Voyages Institute conducted a 30-day expedition in the gyre which continued the science from the 2009 expeditions and tested prototype cleanup devices.


January 01

In 2009, two project vessels from Project Kaisei/Ocean Voyages Institute; the New Horizon and the Kaisei, embarked on a voyage to research the patch and determine the feasibility of commercial-scale collection and recycling. The Scripps Institute of Oceanography's 2009 SEAPLEX expedition in part funded by Ocean Voyages Institute/Project Kaisei also researched the patch. Researchers were also looking at the impact of plastic on mesopelagic fish, such as lanternfish.

In August 2009, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography/Project Kaisei SEAPLEX survey mission of the Gyre found that plastic debris was present in 100 consecutive samples taken at varying depths and net sizes along a path of 1,700 miles (2,700 km) through the patch. The survey found that, although the patch contains large pieces, it is made up of smaller items that increase in concentration toward the gyre's centre, and tcenterconfetti-like' pieces are visible just beneath the surface suggest the affected area may be much smaller. 2009 data collected from Pacific albatross populations suggest the presence of two distinct debris zones.

In 2009 Ocean Voyages Institute removed over 5 tons of plastic during the initial Project Kaisei cleanup initiative while testing a variety of cleanup prototype devices.


August 28

In 2008, the JUNK Raft Project was organized by Dr. Markus Eriksen, Joel Paschal, and Anna Cummins in Long Beach, California, to bring attention to the problem of plastic pollution at the Great Pacific landfill. 
Organizers hoped to "creatively raise awareness of plastic trash and pollution in the ocean,", especially in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch was trapped in the North Pacific Gyre, sailing 2,600 miles across the Pacific Ocean on a 30-foot (9.1 m) raft made from an old Cessna 310 Fuselage aircraft and six pontoons filled with 15,000 old plastic bottles. The crew, led by Dr. Marcus Eriksen of the Foundation and filmmaker Joel Pascal, departed Long Beach, California on June 1, 2008, arriving in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 28. 2008. 


January 01

Charles J. Moore, returning home through the North Pacific Gyre after competing in the Transpacific Yacht Race in 1997, claimed to have come upon an enormous stretch of floating debris. Moore alerted oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer, who subsequently dubbed the region the "Eastern Garbage Patch" (EGP). The area is frequently featured in media reports as an exceptional example of marine pollution.


January 01

The Great Pacific garbage patch was described in a 1988 paper published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The description was based on research by several Alaska-based researchers in 1988 who measured neustonic plastic in the North Pacific Ocean. Researchers found relatively high concentrations of marine debris accumulating in regions governed by ocean currents. Extrapolating from findings in the Sea of Japan, the researchers hypothesized that similar conditions would occur in other parts of the Pacific where prevailing currents were favorable to the creation of relatively stable waters. They specifically indicated the North Pacific Gyre.



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