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Giant Strainer Seeks To Clean Up Oceanic Garbage Patches

Published: Tuesday, August 7, 2018 - 4:48pm
Updated: Wednesday, August 8, 2018 - 9:36am
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Researchers retrieve a fishing net from the Pacific Ocean in 2015.

The currents that move the world's oceans also gather plastic into massive oceanic trash pools. 

One Scientific Reports study estimates the gyre between California and Hawaii holds at least 79,000 tons of plastic, and it's only one of five or more such sites globally.

Now, the nonprofit Ocean Cleanup is preparing to launch a 2,000-foot U-shaped strainer made of floating pipes and nets to clean it up.

But some question whether that's the right place to focus efforts.

Charles Rolsky, a doctoral student at Arizona State University who studies plastic pollution, said the problem takes a multidimensional strategy.

"We have to work with the people removing the stuff; we have to work with the people creating the stuff, consumers utilizing it," he said. "We have to sort of cash in on all those outlets."

Rolsky added that the problem is so bad at this point we can't afford to get picky.

"I think that any type of creative approach to reduce the amount of plastic out there is worth looking into."

Science Sustainability