Could half of the ocean's plastic be removed in half a decade? On Thursday May 11th, The Ocean Cleanup unveiled the latest technology that aims to do just that: a fleet of autonomous mobile systems estimated to clean 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 5 years.
The improved system uses the oceans currents as its engine to drift towards the highest plastic concentration to collect it. Each system will have a 50m anchor deployed 600m from the water's surface to slow its path, increasing its plastic capture efficiency. The presented concept is 100% more effective than the previous and the first cleanup system is set to be deployed mid-2018.
Thousands of attendees from around the world flocked to Utrecht, The Netherlands to witness the unveiling. Reflecting its commitment to a more environmentally friendly future, The Ocean Cleanup wanted the event to be as sustainable as possible. However it's scale made it a challenge to meet this goal with the unavoidable carbon emissions from aspects like energy consumption and the transportation of attendees and staff. After careful calculations, the total amount of emissions for the event was 564 tCO2e averaging 0.19 tCO2e (190 kg) per attendee.
Carbon neutrality was achieved through the generous sponsorship of South Pole, who offset the event emissions with their high quality emissions projects. As offsetting this large environmental footprint was important to The Ocean Cleanup, we wanted to inform and educate our audience about the importance of carbon neutrality. At the Next Phase event, a South Pole representative along with The Ocean Cleanup crew engaged visitors by teaching them about carbon neutrality and asking them to vote on a project they would like to support to offset the carbon usage of the event. Guests were asked to vote for one of three projects. Here are the results:
47% of the votes – Nakhon biogas wastewater treatment, Thailand
This project produces sustainable energy and clean water by capturing methane from a starch drying plant. The local air and water quality have improved in the area. The waste water is used for farming increasing the income of the local communities.
28% of the votes – Song ong hydropower, Vietnam
This project supports a hydropower plant located on the Ong river harnessing the flow of the river generating clean energy. The result of this project helps close the supply-demand gap for energy. It also directly improved infrastructure by creating new roads and repairing existing ones.
25% of the votes – Huoshui grouped small hydropower, China
The project consists of 88 hydroplants generating clean renewable electricity across rural south western China. The renewable electricity is created by using the power of rivers and has no significant or social impacts to the surrounding area. This project has also created numerous jobs and educated students from across China.
The Ocean Cleanup wants to create a better, cleaner future for everyone by ridding the world's oceans of plastic. Creating this future is not just about developing innovative technology, it's also about nurturing a sustainable attitude, one we strive to incorporate into every step of The Ocean Cleanup's journey. We hope by making this event carbon neutral we have not only expressed our dedication to reducing our carbon footprint, but also inspired others to do so as well. We want to thank South Pole for supporting our mission by continuously helping us offset our carbon usage and simultaneously making the world a more sustainable place with their projects.