Sadly, things didn't go precisely to plan and the huge U-shaped barrier had to be hauled in for repairs in January, 2019. It was fixed and redeployed in June, and subsequently had a parachute attached to it. And today the non-profit is reporting that its latest prototype is successfully capturing plastic debris.
The basic idea for the operation was first presented at a TEDx conference in October, 2012, by the Ocean Cleanup's founder and CEO Boyan Slat. It was envisioned that a huge barrier would be deployed at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and would essentially harvest floating plastic waste for processing on shore.
And that's more or less what's been deployed. After a year of testing, the self-contained prototype System 001/B has started passively gathering plastic debris. After solving the problem of speed differences between the system and the plastic waste by installing a parachute to slow the barrier down, the project's engineers then modified the cork line to minimize overtopping. And now it's operating as expected.
As well as collecting plastic waste that's visible, including huge abandoned nets from commercial fishing operations, the system can also capture microplastics as small as 1 mm.