The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is twice the size of Texas and contains more than 176 million pounds of plastic. Almost one year ago, the nonprofit organization Ocean Cleanup launched System 001, which is a 2,000-foot-long unmanned structure that corrals plastic debris. The structure was affectionately dubbed “Wilson” after the volleyball/companion Tom Hanks came to cherish in the movie Cast Away.
I blogged about Wilson last year when it was launched from San Francisco Bay. At the time, my question was, “Yes, we should we be focused on cleaning up the plastic in the Pacific, but shouldn’t we also be spending as much time and resources into stopping the flow of plastic into the ocean?”
As we continue to achieve that balance, Wilson has been having a bit of a rough time at sea. It was having trouble keeping plastic contained within the system. Early this year,
it actually broke apart and needed to be taken to Hawaii for repairs. Ocean cleanup says the problems have been corrected and Wilson will be back in the water soon.
In the meantime, System 001/B was launched a couple of months ago. This system is about a quarter the size of Wilson, but much faster and more modular. It was designed using lessons learned from Wilson.