Oct. 2 (UPI) -- The Ocean Cleanup is successfully corralling plastic debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the device's developers announced on Wednesday.
"We now have a self-contained system in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that is using the natural forces of the ocean to passively catch and concentrate plastics, thereby confirming the most important principle behind the Ocean Clean," Boyan Slat, the 25-year-old Dutch CEO and founder of the Ocean Cleanup, said during a press conference in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on Tuesday. "Not only that, but we've been able to do so for all sizes of plastics."
Slat first came up with the idea of the Ocean Cleanup system, a giant boom-like device that relies on winds and waves to move across the ocean surface, while still in high school.
"While the idea was simple, the execution turned out to be anything but," Slat said.
After several years of prototyping, Slat and his team deployed their garbage collector last year. Their efforts ended in failure and the massive contraption had to be hauled back to port for repairs.
Over the last year, Slat and his engineering partners developed what he calls a "corkline," which solved one of the system's main problems, the escape of plastic debris over the top of the boom. The team also installed a larger, skirt-like component, called ghost netting, that extends down into the water to catch smaller pieces of plastic suspended just below the ocean surface.
Over the last several months, the new and improved Ocean Cleanup system, dubbed System 001/B, has been successfully collecting garbage -- a period of sustained success that Slat credited his team and partners with.
"After beginning this journey seven years ago, this first year of testing in the unforgivable environment of the high seas strongly indicates that our vision is attainable and that the beginning of our mission to rid the ocean of plastic garbage, which has accumulated for decades, is within our sights," Slat said.
"Our team has remained steadfast in its determination to solve immense technical challenges to arrive at this point. Though we still have much more work to do, I am eternally grateful for the team's commitment and dedication to the mission and look forward to continuing to the next phase of development."