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Voyage of recycled Plastiki to sail through Pacific garbage patch

The Plastiki, a boat made from recycled plastic, is sailing from San Francisco to Sydney to raise awareness about ocean-borne plastic litter, particularly in the Pacific garbage patch.

By Michael B. FarrellStaff writer / March 23, 2010

The Plastiki, a 60-foot sailing catamaran built by British adventurer David de Rothschild, goes on a test sail in San Francisco Bay on Feb. 11. The vessel, built from more than 11,000 reclaimed bottles and other recycled plastic and waste products, is sailing from San Francisco to Sydney through the Pacific garbage patch.

Robert Galbraith/Reuters


San Francisco

A catamaran with recycled plastic sails and a hull full of reclaimed soda jugs cast off the California coastline last weekend on a social mission to bring attention to the tons of other plastic floating around in the ocean.

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The recycled boat, called the Plastiki, and its 11,000 nautical mile journey from San Francisco to Sydney was the brainchild of adventurer and environmentalist David de Rothschild, of the British Rothschild banking family.

Mr. de Rothschild’s high-seas crusade comes as there's growing attention on the world's oceans. Earlier this month, “The Cove,” a documentary on the mass killing of dolphins in Japan, won the Academy Award for best documentary. And in recent weeks, Capt. Charles Moore, who is credited with first bringing attention to the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” has been making the rounds on late-night TV to raise awareness about plastic pollutants.

IN PICTURES: Voyage of the Plastiki

“The oceans are getting a lot of attention, but to be honest with you the problem is not getting better at the rate we’d like it to be,” says Elisabeth Guilbaud-Cox, officer in charge of the North America office of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), which issued a report on the oceans that inspired de Rothschild’s Plastiki voyage.

The 2006 United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report, “Ecosystems and Biodiversity in Deep Waters and High Seas,” said that “over 46,000 pieces of plastic litter are floating on every square mile of ocean today.”