One of our planet’s most discouraging features is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP). The GPGP, also known as the Eastern Pacific Garbage Patch and the Pacific Trash Vortex, lies in the middle of the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre—a circular ocean current perfect for capturing debris. The GPGP conjures up an image of a floating landfill, but the debris is largely composed of microplastics—plastic pieces between 0.3 and 5 millimeters in diameter; invisible to the naked eye.
Scientists have collected up to 750,000 bits of plastic in a single square kilometer (or 1.9 million bits per square mile) of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. (National Geographic)
The exact size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is impossible to measure, but it’s enormous. And because the GPGP lies so far out in the ocean, no single nation will take credit for the mess.
An honorable mention in the 2014 eVolo Skyscraper Competition brings a unique solution to the problem of cleaning the GPGP— Seawer, a Garbage-Seascraper:
Seawer proposes to install a huge drainage hole 550 meters in diameter and 300 meters in depth in the middle of the GPGP. The project would engulf all kinds of floating trash filled with seawater. Seawer consists of five layers of baleen filters, which separate particles and fluids. The plastic particles collected from filters are taken to a recycling plant atop of the structure while seawater is filtered and stored in a large sedimentation tank at the bottom to be further cleaned and released into the ocean. (evolo.us)
Seawer is presented as a kind of giant toilet for the Pacific, with purified seawater exiting the structure below. The structure would create its own electricity from energy from the sun, seawater and plastics as it removed waste from the ocean water.