This month, a new floating clean-up system to tackle what is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch was due to be deployed following tests off the US coast of California.
By making use of the ocean currents, the passive drifting systems are estimated to be able to clean up half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in five years.
The Garbage Patch is located halfway between Hawaii and California and is the largest accumulation zone for plastics on Earth, containing as much as 16 times more plastic than previously estimated and with pollution levels increasing.
In May, a 120m section of the floating system, known as System 001, was towed out of San Francisco Bay, California, as part of the towing test and, according to Arjen Tjallema, technology manager at the Dutch nonprofit organisation Ocean Cleanup, the entire section performed satisfactorily.
The organisation was established in 2013 by the Dutch inventor Boyan Slat.
The two weeks of tests in May and June were carried out some 50 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge. The unit is designed to bend and flex with the waves, in a snake-like motion, and was towed at various speeds and in orientations relative to the wind, current and waves.
The test unit endured a severe storm and did not show any signs of damage.
Mr Tjallema said: “The screen and floater confirmed the behaviour we observed on our North Sea prototypes, in scale model tests and in our numerical models.”