Dutch foundation tests 'Ocean Cleanup' plan to collect floating plastic trash from the ocean

The prototype of The Ocean Cleanup project is pictured during its unveiling in Scheveningen, the Netherlands, on June 22, 2016.
The prototype of The Ocean Cleanup project is pictured during its unveiling in Scheveningen, the Netherlands, on June 22, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A Dutch foundation has developed floating barriers to try to collect trash from the world's oceans, and will launch a 100m-long prototype in the North Sea this week to see how it fares during storms.

The Ocean Cleanup Foundation's 21-year-old chief executive Boyan Slat, who first had the idea for the system as a teenager, hopes to use the technology in an enormous area where trash circulates in the northern Pacific Ocean, from 2020.

Experts have sounded the alarm in recent years over millions of tonnes of plastic pollution floating in the ocean that is killing vast numbers of seabirds, marine mammals, sea turtles and other creatures.

The foundation, which employs 50 engineers and researchers, received 1.5 million euros in support from the Dutch government and marine services company Boskalis, along with an anonymous private donor, for the prototype.

The full-scale version would work by allowing ocean currents to passively funnel trash for easy collection, rather than using vessels to actively gather it.