Boyan Slat has spent his teenage years on a mission to clean the World’s oceans. His invention, which began as a school science project was triggered by his own experiences of the problem of plastic pollution in the sea around Greece.
Previous thinking has always been that it is a fruitless task to try to clean the ocean. The areas clogged with plastic debris are so vast, that it was estimated that cleaning one single ‘garbage patch’ would take in the region of 79,000 years using vessels and nets to catch the particles.
Unfortunately, this vessel and net technique would cause real harm to sea life who could easily be caught up in the nets. The ships would also release CO2 into the atmosphere, causing further environmental damage. Slat decided to think outside of the box and came up with a revolutionary concept.
The video below shows an 18 year old Slat hosting a TEDtalk which discusses his ideas. He “combines environmentalism, entrepreneurism and technology to tackle global issues of sustainability. After diving in Greece, and coming across more plastic bags than fish, he wondered; “why can’t we clean this up?””
“Taking care of the world’s ocean garbage problem is one of the largest environmental challenges mankind faces today. Not only will this first cleanup array contribute to cleaner waters and coasts but it simultaneously is an essential step towards our goal of cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This deployment will enable us to study the system’s efficiency and durability over time.” ~ Boyan Slat, founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup”
A study by Jambeck et al published in 2015 reported that approximately 8 million tonnes of plastic makes its way into the ocean each year. There are 5 hot spots known as gyres, where the floating debris tends to accumulate.
Eriksen et al, 2014 estimate that there are at least 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the oceans! They take the form of packaging, carrier bags, toothbrushes, toys, tampon applicators, pellets and anything else that we carelessly discard.
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