Some have asked why the plastic shown in our System 002 catch videos looks so clean, compared to plastic pollution people are used to seeing closer to shore.

Many factors influence the growth of organisms on the plastic and the weathering of the floating plastic debris at sea. For example, the amount of nutrients in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) is far fewer when compared to coastal waters. This is because the GPGP is far from land and, therefore, far from key nutrient sources. There is also very little nutrient-rich deep water rising within that region. This means that the gyres have low marine productivity, with less sea life growing on plastic as there aren’t sufficient nutrients to grow.

We also see a substantial amount of fishing gear in our catch. This gear is made to last in the marine environment, often having additives in the polymers to reduce the amount of life growing on them, ensuring they can stay intact even after decades in the ocean. We also don’t know how long each piece has been in the water. Any item may have been lost from a ship only a short while ago. Our goal is to collect and pick up what is there, regardless of when or how it got there.

That being said, we have collected a wide variety of plastic items with varying levels of marine growth. You can check out some items found in this Facebook album and in this YouTube video.