A fishing expedition of sorts that brought in a mother lode of plastic from the area of the ocean known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has been delivered to Ogden Point in Victoria for recycling and disposal.
The 55-tonne haul was collected in a six-week operation by the Ocean Cleanup project, a Dutch non-profit trying to rid the world's oceans of plastic.
Tackling the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is no small feat. Located 2,000 kilometres from Victoria between Hawaii and California and estimated to be twice the size of Texas, the first phase involved pulling a skimming line between two ships that works to concentrate any floating plastic.
"It's a very shallow skimmer that goes into the ocean, and at the end of the U-shape, there is a collection bag. We call it a retention zone. You can put three Greyhound buses in there right now. It's massive," said Joost Dubys, communications director for the Ocean Cleanup project.
According to Dubys, an area the size of one football field is cleaned every 10 seconds. The retention bag is emptied every three days of between 10 to 15 tonnes of garbage.
Even though the effectiveness of the technology has been likened to mopping the floor while the bathtub continues to overflow, project leader Flemming Anderson, 65, says working with Ocean Cleanup makes him feel like he's helping the next generation.
"I am happy about this because I am an old guy. I can do something about the legacy to my grandchildren, so that's actually why I am doing it. I am happy [and] proud of that," said Anderson.
Ocean Cleanup has used Victoria as a base since 2019, when it first started collecting plastics from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
It has several projects underway around the world, including initiatives to collect plastic waste at the mouths of rivers in Guatemala, Jamaica, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam and California.
The Ocean Cleanup project collects floating plastic waste with a skim line pulled between two vessels. (Ocean Cleanup)