A young genius entrepreneur with a love for the ecosystem named Boyan Slat has vowed to do something about the growing threat of humanity’s plastic waste in our oceans. According to Wikipedia, when Slat was 16 he was diving in the waters of Greece where he encountered more plastic in the water than fish.
After giving a TED talk on the threat of ocean plastic, Slat founded the Ocean Cleanup Project at the young age of 18 in 2013. Now, Slat is devoting all of his time to cleaning up the ocean and it looks like he may just achieve his goal.
A team of 16 scientists contributed to an article titled Evidence That The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Rapidly Accumulating Plastic, (volume 8, Article number: 4666). These experts in the field of oceanography concluded that: “Plastics were by far the most dominant type of marine litter found, representing more than 99.9% of the 1,136,145 pieces and 668 kg of floating debris collected by our trawls.” This disturbing number of oceanic plastic has begun to be cleaned up by Slat and his enormous team over at The Ocean Cleanup Project.
The system Slat has designed works differently than conventional tug-boats that haul in garbage. According to the Ocean Cleanup Project website, “The Ocean Cleanup is developing a passive system, moving with the currents—just like the plastic—to catch it. The Ocean Cleanup’s passive system is comprised of a floater with a solid screen underneath, concentrating the debris and leading it to a collection system.” In addition to this, “The system is slowed down by a drift anchor suspended at an approximate depth of 600 meters, making the system move slower than the plastic and therefore catching it.”
In an interview at Goldman Sach’s open talk forum Talks At GS, Slat spoke with interviewer Cliff Marriott saying: “What we proposed was to set out a fleet of artificial coastlines where there are no coastlines. So by using the natural ocean currents to our advantage and by deploying these very long u-shaped floating barriers [it] would first concentrate the plastic before we would take it out. With a fleet of about 50 of these garbage clean up systems, we should be able to clean up half of this great garbage patch within at least 5 years.”
The barriers themselves are already being tested in the waters of the Pacific Ocean where the Great Plastic Garbage Patch is located. They are working to eliminate the marine plastics to give relief to the surrounding wildlife most threatened by the plastic right away. Slat also went on to say: “There are currently 800 species threatened with extinction as a direct result of this plastic pollution, so think about entanglement, marine life getting stuck in nets or consuming the plastic.” According to the Ocean Cleanup Project website, Slat aims to try and have a plastic-free ocean by 2050.
The Ocean Cleanup Project, spearheaded by CEO Boyan Slat, is taking over the task of cleaning up our ocean’s enormous plastic litter, a move that the world has desperately needed for several years. Cleaning up the ocean is an important top priority, but so is preventing plastics from making it into the oceans through rivers and canals. Measures to stop that should also be put into effect as soon as possible.
What do you think of Boyan Slat and his Ocean Cleanup Project?