Rotterdam, Netherlands-based nonprofit group Ocean Cleanup has brought ashore its first haul, 60 tote bags of plastic it scooped from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
"We actually have the first plastic back on land," Ocean Cleanup CEO and founder Boyan Slat told reporters Dec. 12 at a news conference. "It fills me with a lot of pride and joy."
The plastic was brought to Vancouver, British Columbia, for eventual recycling.
The group's first mission is now accomplished, according to Slat, who shared a few vague details about what will happen next to the marine litter as well as plans to collect more ocean plastic and develop standards for recycling it into new products.
"We're going to recycle this plastic and we're going to turn it into beautiful sustainable products completely made from this plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and 100 percent of the proceeds are going to the continuation of the cleanup," Slat said.
"These aren't going to be gimmicks," he added. "These are going to be products you actually want. We're going to try this out in the coming year to see if it is actually something that can work because this has never been done before."
The group plans to launch its product in September, when details about its cost and quantity also will be announced.
"This will be the first product ever made from plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, so success isn't guaranteed," Slat said, noting the plastic has likely been in the ocean for decades and is corroded, degraded and covered in salt.
"The quality of this material surely will be a challenge, yet because of the research we've been doing the past few years, we believe this should actually be possible," he said.