Cracking Down On Ocean Plastic: Challenges And Cleanup Efforts


  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP), discovered in 1997 by Captain Charles Moore, challenges common misconceptions, with new insights from researchers and initiatives to tackle the issue.
  • Despite its portrayal as a floating mass, the GPGP is more accurately described as a swirling soup of plastics, challenging efforts to visualize it accurately.
  • Initiatives like The Ocean Cleanup aim to address the problem, but reducing plastic production remains a crucial aspect of preventing further damage to the environment.

Visualizing the Murky Ocean Soup

Captain Charles Moore, who discovered the GPGP in 1997, emphasizes that the patch isn’t a solid mass but a murky soup of different-sized plastics. Contrary to misconceptions, ships can navigate through it, and studies reveal that microplastics constitute a significant portion of the estimated 1.8 trillion pieces in the GPGP. Challenges in visualizing the patch hinder public awareness and the urgency to address the issue.

Initiatives to Clean and Prevent

Efforts like The Ocean Cleanup aim to address the GPGP, with their latest System 03 designed to clean specific plastic hotspots. However, questions arise about the feasibility and potential carbon cost of such initiatives. Experts agree that while technological solutions are essential, reducing plastic production is crucial. The upcoming international plastics treaty in 2024 seeks a binding agreement among 175 nations to combat plastic pollution and prevent new plastics from reaching the ocean and contributing to garbage patches. Captain Moore emphasizes the need to focus on reducing plastic production to truly solve the problem.

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Source: BBC