Between California and Hawaii resides the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This part of the ocean is home to more than five trillion pieces of plastic, thats easily a sixth of the U.S. With so much garbage already thrown in, its a mystery as to why someone hasn’t done something about it. Human errors like these need to be resolved before the problem gets too big to fix. With so much technology at our fingertips, there needs to be a way to handle the damage we have caused the deep blue.
Boyan Slat, 24, decided to do something about it. Instead of throwing his hands up, he designed a 600-meter tubular float and skirt system to clean up the mess. His company, The Ocean Cleanup, recently tested their first 120-meter section out of San Francisco. Proving to be a huge success they are currently at work creating the rest of the system. They have projected to finish the rest of the sections by the end of this year and eventually hope to have around 60 of these systems floating in the Pacific Ocean. This project has estimated to remove half of the garbage in this area within 5 years and around 90% by 2040. This is huge step in the right direction.
Slat had been thinking about how hw can clean up the ocean for a while but kept hitting a stump because the cost to clean up the ocean with any vessel proved to be way to costly. He thought up the idea for this system while doodling on a napkin in a restaurant in Portugal. He studied Aerospace engineering in the Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology where he eventually dropped out the devote to his company full time.
This system is in the hands of the environment and elements as it is powered by the wind, sun, and water. Slats way of catching plastic is to “think like plastic”. Therefore, the system moves passively through the waters. The floating barriers have a three-meter skirt hanging below them. The floaters catch the power of the wind and the waves so that the system moves in the same direction but slightly faster than the refuse in the water, allowing it to collect the trash. Amongst other technologies attached to the system, The Ocean Cleanup company has all bases covered.
About three tons of plastic will be collected by the system a week and will be collected by recycling companies which are prepared for this amount of plastic influx. If The Ocean Cleanup proves to be effective after its launch into the ocean this year, Slat hopes to send his system to the four other ocean spots where plastic collects. This is just the beginning or a long journey to right the wrongs and clean up the world we live in.