JUL 11, 2016 7:03 PM PDT

A clean up strategy big enough for the oceans


When he was just 19 years old, Boyan Slat came up with an idea big enough to confront one of the most intimidating environmental problems that the world faces today: plastics in the oceans. About 8 million tons of plastic enters the ocean every year. Trash accumulates in 5 ocean garbage patches, the largest of which is between Hawaii and California. That's why Slat created The Ocean Cleanup. The Ocean Cleanup develops advanced technologies to rid the world's oceans of plastic. One passive system could theoretically remove about half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 10 years.

How does it work? The Ocean Cleanup fully relies on the natural ocean currents to catch and concentrate the debris, and requires no external energy source. By acting like an artificial coastline, a barrier concentrates the plastic by orders of magnitude, 100% powered by natural ocean currents. This barrier uses solid screens which catches the floating plastic, but allows sea life to pass underneath the barrier with the current. Due to the orientation of the barriers moored to the seabed, plastic will slowly be pushed towards the center of the array, becoming even more concentrated. A central collection point extracts and buffers the debris, before being shipped to land. By recycling the debris and selling the semi-finished product directly to B2C companies, the company aims to eventually make the operation self-sustainable.

Read more about the project here: www.theoceancleanup.com
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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