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Giant floating cleanup system is about to get rid of Great Pacific garbage patch

This week a giant floating device aiming to catch plastic waste was deployed again in a second attempt to clean up a huge garbage island swirling in the Pacific Ocean.

Boyan Slat, creator of the Ocean Cleanup project, announced on Twitter that a 600 metre (2,000ft) long floating boom that broke apart late last year was sent back to the Great Pacific garbage patch this week after four months of repair.

A ship towed the U-shaped barrier from San Francisco to the patch in September to trap the plastic. But during the four months at sea, the boom broke apart under constant waves and wind and the boom was not retaining the plastic it caught.

“Hopefully nature doesn’t have too many surprises in store for us this time,” Slat tweeted. “Either way, we’re set to learn a lot from this campaign.”

Fitted with solar-powered lights, cameras, sensors and satellite antennas, the device intends to communicate its position at all times, allowing a support vessel to fish out the collected plastic every few months and transport it to dry land.

The plastic barrier with a tapered three metre deep screen is intended to act like a coastline, trapping some of the 1.8mtn pieces of plastic that scientists estimate are swirling in the patch while allowing marine life to safely swim beneath it.

During its first run, the organisation said marine biologists on board the support vessel did not observe any environmental impact.

Slat hopes to deploy one day 60 of the devices to collect all the plastic debris of the ocean.