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Ocean Cleanup crew removes 54 tonnes of plastic from Pacific garbage patch

A non-profit organization on a mission to get rid of plastic in the world’s oceans has landed in Victoria with its largest haul yet – bringing in 120,000 pounds of waste.

“I commend them for it,” says long-time Vancouver Islander, Judith Boulden. “There’s just way too much floating out there and the sea life get caught in it.”

The Ocean Cleanup is on a three-day port call to Victoria, offloading marine debris collected from the Great Pacific garbage patch. The crew of 44 aboard two vessels spent the last six weeks at sea, collecting the waste – and its founder says they’re about to scale up.

“This is a special port call because this is the first time we’re taking our full-scale cleanup system out to the Great Pacific garbage patch,” says Ocean Cleanup founder and CEO, Boyan Flat.

Flat says the crew is about to size up its surface water nets, which get pulled behind the vessels collecting the trash.

“It’s three times the size of our former cleanup system,” he says. “It’s 2.5 kilometres in length. And with that, we will be able to clean an area the size of a football field every five seconds.”

Flat says he became inspired to initiate the business following a scuba diving expedition in Greece as a teenager. The Dutchman says he was disappointed to find more plastic bags than fish – and thought about how he could help.

CTV News was invited aboard the two ships docked at Ogden Point. And Flat isn’t the only one with a passion for the work.

“It’s amazing,” says senior offshore representative, Flemming Anderson. “This is my legacy to my children and my grandchildren. This is important to me.”

The Great Pacific garbage patch is the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world. It’s located between Hawaii and California.

“The plastic, once it’s in the garbage patch, it stays out there essentially forever,” says Flat.

The team says every haul has a signature. The latest run generated a high number of eel traps – along with toys, toilet seats, and buckets.

“To us it’s like modern-day archaeology,” says Flat. “We even saw a drinking bottle from the U.S. army from the Vietnam War.”

The crews are offloading the debris collected from this latest run over its three-day port call. From there, the plastic is loaded into containers bound for a train to the East Coast. Then it gets shipped to Europe for recycling.

“In the future, we do plan to do the recycling here in North America once we scale up,” says Flat. Top Stories


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