21-year-old mops up sea of plastic

The Ocean Cleanup
25 October 2016

Around 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean every year – killing over a million seabirds, hundreds of thousands of marine mammals and even entering the human food chain, affecting our health. Plastic pollution also costs at least US$13 billion each year to industries such as fishing, shipping and tourism, and for the cleaning of coastlines.

A 21-year-old from The Netherlands plans to clean up the world’s oceans in just five years, removing over seven million tons of plastic. Boyan Slat’s invention is an anchored network of floating booms and processing platforms, which will be located where plastic accumulates. Working with the flow of ocean currents, the array acts as a giant funnel. The angle of the booms force plastic in the direction of the processing platforms, where it would be separated from smaller forms, such as plankton. Here it will be filtered and stored for recycling.

By using booms instead of nets, the issue of by-catches – catching and killing marine creatures in the process – can be virtually eliminated. Because of the density of plastic in comparison to larger sea animals, the booms will allow creatures to swim under them unaffected, reducing wildlife death substantially. Slat and his team plan to deploy the system by the end of 2017, having decided to test a prototype in the North Sea first.

“In the past, technological advances have often come with a cost to the environment,” he tells us. “What I really hope is that in this century, The Ocean Cleanup can be used as a symbol for us using technology to actually make things better.”

Submitted by

Gaby Bastyra

Bio

Gaby is a wildlife documentary producer with broadcast credits on BBC, National Geographic, Discovery and PBS.

Project leader

Boyan Slat, Founder and CEO

Location

Netherlands (Delft)

Creative Commons License

Comments

 

Data Protection Act: LOPD.
In compliance with Organic Law 15/1999, of 13 of December, on Personal Data Protection, and the development of Rules of Procedure, approved by Royal Decree 1720/2007, of 21 of December, Atlas of the Future subscribers may be required to provide Personal Data, which will be included in a file owned by Democratizing The Future Society SL. Such file is duly incorporated in the Spanish Data Protection Agency and protected in compliance with the security measures established in the applicable legislation. Subscribers may exercise, at any time, their rights of access, rectification, cancellation and/or opposal regarding their Personal Data. The subscriber shall notice their will, either under written form addressed to Democratizing The Future Society SL, Ref. LOPD, Calabria, 10 6-3 08015 - Barcelona (Spain) and/or by e-mail, clicking here. Also, the subscriber shall communicate Atlas of the Future any modifications of their Personal Data stored, so that the information stored by Atlas of the Future remains at all times updated and error-free
Close