When 6 year old Boyan Slat saw “more plastic bags than fish” on a dive trip in Greece, a spark of frustration started what has become a phenomenal undertaking. Now 19, Slat has driven the ocean clean up project, and has developed, along with a ream of over 100 volunteer scientists and engineers, a revolutionary system of cleaning the worlds oceans of our garbage.
Around the world there are now millions of tonnes of plastic waste polluting our oceans. Through consistent ocean currents this waste has congregated in 5 distinct patches called ‘Gyres’ the largest being the North Pacific Garbage Patch. By targeting these Gyres, through a process called passive collection, the actual removal of the debris becomes a feasible and viable project.
Slat’s design uses floating collection bays, that allow fish and other marine life to pass unaffected. Through extensive research and development it has been estimated that this system could “remove almost half the plastic from the North Pacific Garbage patch in 10 years, while being an estimated 7900x faster and 33x cheaper than conventional methods. (The Ocean Clean Up 2015)
As well as addressing the current problem of ocean waste, the ocean clean up project is approaching this issue of waste removal as a long term and sustainable shift in cultural norms. Strong campaigning to raise awareness and generate a sense of public responsibility is a key part of preventing more waste entering the ocean systems across the world. Smaller scaled collection bays are also planned to be implemented in local waterways, in an attempt to catch debris before it enters the ocean systems.
This project has grown to include a multidisciplinary team ranging from oceanographers to marketing and communications, allowing a holistic solution that will continue to develop through a sustained approach. Funded by the largest crowdfunding operation in history, over 2.1 US dollars was raised to bring this project to a pilot stage within three years, making this initiative a very real possibility in the fight to clean the oceans of the plastic we have filled it with.
The Ocean Clean Up (Boyan Slat) 2014, The Ocean Clean Up Viewed 28th April 2015 <http://www.theoceancleanup.com >
The Ocean Clean Up 2014, How we showed the oceans could clean themselves – Boyan Slat on the Ocean Cleanup, Tedx Video Recording, YouTube, Viewed 28th April 2015 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpDxE8BhPSM >
Boyan Slat 2015, Boyan Slat, 2015, Viewed 29th April 2015 <http://www.boyanslat.com >