Why So Many Of Us Wanted To Believe In An Ocean Cleanup Tech Solution That Just Broke

Source: The Verge/Rachel Becker

Photo: Brian Yurasits


A much-lauded multimillion-dollar device intended to purge the Pacific Ocean of its plastic waste has broken, as experts suspected it would, NBC News reports. The device is now being towed to port in Hawaii for repairs, highlighting how a project’s hype says more about our expectations than about its likelihood of success.

The broken device is a curved, 2,000-foot-long plastic tube created by a foundation called The Ocean Cleanup. It’s intended to trap marine plastics bobbing within feet of the ocean’s surface, but a number of experts were skeptical of its chances of success well before it ever went out to sea. And it isn’t the only potential fix for marine plastics, as Laurel Hamers reports for Science News. We could demand legislation to curb the production of plastics. We could trap plastics at the mouths of rivers before they reach the sea, or pick them up on beaches. But a massive gadget seems easier. After all, if a startup is going to fix a human problem with technology, then the rest of us don’t need to change.

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Photo: Brian Yurasits