Cleanup Device for World’s Biggest Ocean Garbage Pile Malfunctions

A new device recently launched to help clean up the world’s largest ocean garbage pile—the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—has been taken out of commission just a few weeks after launch due to a massive chunk falling off. A 60-foot piece of the 2,000-foot long Ocean Cleanup device broke off and now the entire system is being towed back to shore for an overhaul and upgrade, the group behind it announced. According to Boyan Slat, CEO of the Dutch non-profit that made the device, a 60-foot end section that corrals plastic detached due to “material fatigue,” most likely caused by strong waves putting pressure on objects in the water. The device, which received praise for its potential to combat trash and litter in the ocean, is a passive system with a 9-foot skirt below the surface of the water that corrals tiny pieces of plastic trash. But the latest break, which was spotted on Dec. 29, marks the second issue to pop up with the device since it was first deployed in October. In late November, the group said it was at times moving too slowly to hold on to plastic it had collected. While Slat said he was “quite bummed” about the latest problem, he said it would provide a chance to “make upgrades to the system.” “We will set sail as soon as an appropriate weather window is available," Slat said.