Offshore vessel operator Maersk Supply Service has agreed to deploy the AHTS Maersk Launcher in support of the deployment of The Ocean Cleanup trash removal system, which aims to remove plastic debris from the waters of the North Pacific. It is the first large-scale initiative of its kind.
The effort will target the well-publicized “garbage patch” in the Pacific, which contains mismanaged plastic waste generated on shore. According to researchers at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, ten river systems in Asia and Africa account for as much as 95 percent of ocean plastic pollution worldwide, and six of ten flow into the seas of the Western Pacific region. The Ocean Cleanup estimates that about 85 percent of the total comes from Asia.
The Ocean Cleanup’s system relies upon long floating screens to collect plastic debris for recycling. The group has a support center at Alameda, across the bay from the Port of San Francisco, and the site recently conducted offshore tow testing for a 120-meter segment of the barrier. The complete unit will be 600 meters long, and under optimal conditions, the group believes that it will accumulate one ton of plastic per week. Ocean Cleanup asserts that if deployed worldwide, and combined with onshore waste reduction, the system could remove 90 percent of the world’s ocean plastic pollution. Plastic waste enters the sea at an estimated rate of 90,000 to 270,000 tons per week, according to an estimate published in Science in 2015. – Read on.