If everything goes according to plan and the device is a success, The Ocean Cleanup estimates they will be able to bring back their first batch of plastic to San Francico within months of the launch. After completion of the trails, the 600-meter long device will travel the remaining 1000 nautical miles to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. System 001 consists of a 600-meter-long (2000 ft) U-shaped floating barrier with a three-meter (10 ft) skirt attached below.
"If you don't stop plastics from flowing into the ocean, it will be a Sisyphean task", Leonard said, citing the Greek myth of a task never completed.
The BBC explained that the not-for-profit project is the brainchild of Dutch entrepreneur Boyan Slat, who conceived the cleanup while diving off the coast of Greece as a teenager and being disgusted by floating plastic trash in the water.
Slat is proud and delighted that the project is finally happening, after 273 scale model tests, six at-sea prototypes, a comprehensive mapping of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and several technology iterations.
Slat said he and his team will pay close attention to whether the system works efficiently and withstands harsh ocean conditions, including huge waves.
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"We still have to prove the technology... which will then allow us to scale up a fleet of systems", he said.
Launched Saturday afternoon, the floating boom is being towed from San Francisco to begin its cleanup efforts at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is about twice the size of Texas and thought to be the world's biggest garbage patch.
Engineers will deploy a trash collection device to corral plastic litter floating between California and Hawaii in an attempt to clean up the world's largest garbage patch in the heart of the Pacific Ocean.
At just 23 years of age, Boyan Slat scooped the European Entrepreneur of the Year award for the system at a Brussels awards ceremony held as part of the European Business Summit.
They will stay in the water for two decades and in that time will collect 90 per cent of the garbage in the patch, he added.
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Since 2013, 2013, Ocean Cleanup raised over $35 million through crowdfunding campaigns and private donors.
"We at the Ocean Conservancy are highly skeptical but we hope it works", he said.
Every year, at least 8 tonnes of plastic leaks into our oceans.
Boyan Slat, the 24-year-old Dutch founder and chief executive of the group, said the real celebrations will start when the first plastic is landed and taken for recycling: "For 60 years, mankind has been putting plastic into the oceans; from that day onwards, we're taking it back out again". "We have to wait and see".
"But I also think humanity can do more than one thing at a time to tackle this problem."
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Schwartz also voiced concerns about the impact the contraption will have on marine life.