328 foot-long floating barrier will collect ocean trash

The Ocean Cleanup is testing a prototype that could lead to a barrier 62 miles long.

There are numerous efforts underway to clean the world's oceans, but The Ocean Cleanup is testing what may be both the simplest and the most ambitious. It just launched a 328 foot-long prototype floating barrier that will collect trash floating in the North Sea. If it can survive the rough conditions of those waters, the plan is to deploy a 62 mile-long (!) barrier in the Pacific Ocean and reduce the size of the notorious Great Pacific Garbage Patch -- the hope is to halve the size of the trash field in 10 years.

Whether or not it's an ideal solution is up for debate. The 6.6 foot-deep design shouldn't interfere with wildlife (unlike existing nets) and is intended to last through vicious storms. However, the University of Hawaii's Jeffrey Drazen warns Scientific American that a massive barrier like this could mess with the distribution of animals in the region. Also, the surface pollution is just one part of a larger problem. We'll only truly get rid of ocean debris when we avoid putting it there in the first place. Biodegradable materials and better recycling may ultimately be the key.