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Plastic-Collecting Tool Ready for Another Stab at Ocean Trash

September 3, 2019

After a series of trials and errors, a tool created by organization The Ocean Cleanup to remove plastic trash from the ocean may finally be doing the job, Business Insider reports.

A young entrepreneur from the Netherlands designed a 2,000-foot-long U-shaped device that is towed into the ocean, with the goal of cleaning the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a trash-filled vortex more than twice the size of Texas. The device was expected to move along with the ocean current, trapping plastic in the center of its U-shaped trap. The collected trash would then be towed to shore on a vessel.

However, retaining the plastic inside the device became a problem. Shortly after the tool was towed out to the ocean last year, it began to spill plastic back into the garbage patch. Its sensors and satellite system malfunctioned as well, forcing it to return to port in December.

This summer, The Ocean Cleanup deployed an improved device that uses underwear parachutes to slow its movement through the water and allow it to retain more plastic. Organization members are hopeful the design change could enable the tool to remove enough plastic from the patch to get it down to 1/35 the size of Houston.

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