Ever since environmentalist Charles Moore discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 1997, there has been a lot of talk about getting it cleaned up, but not much action has been made. Every year, up to eight million tons of plastic are thrown into the ocean. Much of that plastic, although eventually broken down into tiny pieces, is not biodegradable. It’s a threat to seabirds and marine mammals, causes financial damage to industries from shipping to tourism, and enters the food chain, posing serious health threats to humans.
Carried by ocean currents, that plastic drifts in five gyres: massive systems of rotating water currents. The largest is the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, which spans around 20 million square kilometers, and, according to Charles Moore, would take 79,000 years to clean up with a fleet of ships.
It is a gigantic and complex job which has left the human race scratching their heads.
Enter Boyan Slat, the 18 year old dutch kid who has taken the initiative all on his own to clean up this mammoth earth challenge with his invention to allow the oceans to clean themselves. Slat was only 16 when he started planning his invention and has not stopped ever since.
He has seen the moving gyres as an opportunity, inventing a shipless system in which an array of floating barriers anchored to the bottom of the ocean would catch debris carried in by the currents, while letting sea life pass underneath it.
It began as an idea, with no funds available to make this happen. That was until March 2013, when a video of Boyan presenting his idea at Tedx Delft went viral, getting more than 2 million views on Youtube. By June 2014, Boyan’s Ocean Clean Up Foundation, had raised over US$ 2 million in more than 160 countries to fund his project.
Today, he works with a team of 100 researchers in Delft from the fields of engineering, physical oceanography, ecology, finance, maritime law, processing and recycling to make his invention a reality.
Watch the video above to see what his team are up to on this earth saving mission.
Did you know about the Great Pacific Ocean Patch? This is due to years of humans not acting responsibly with their waste. Make sure you always recycle your plastic and keep your plastic bag use to a minimum.