Boyan Slat leads the way with a plan for the ocean to clean itself
Boyan Slat is a Dutch man, barely out of his teens, with an ambitions plan to cut in half the plastic debris floating in the Pacific over the next ten years. Instead of going from beach to beach picking up bottles and discarded junk, Slat plans to have the ocean “clean itself.”
What is being called the “The Largest Cleanup In History,” Slats plan is to place giant 6,560 feet long floating barriers in the Pacific between Japan and South Korea, to trap floating debris where plastic waste naturally flow into the netting. From there, the plan is to have ships pick up the garbage using a conveyor belt. The method Boyan has devised makes the cost just three percent of the present cost for similar clean up methods.
Giant V-shaped buffers will be anchored by floating booms instead of traditional nets which trap and tangle up sea life. The natural ocean currents will flow underneath the buffers, allowing fish and animals to pass through safely.
The plan should launch some time in 2016 Slats contraption will be the longest floating structure ever made and will spend the next two years catching debris. Over 35 cubic feet of waste lands on the beaches of Tsushima, an island in the Pacific, for each of the residents of the island. Leaders there are currently considering proposals to utilize that waste as a new source of energy.
As long as the initial testing goes well, additional plastic-gathering structures like these will be installed all over the world. For now, the Ocean Cleanup is sending 50 boats to scout locations between Hawaii and California to make the first hi-res map of the plastic that is currently floating in the Pacific.
Hopefully Boyan is up to the task because in addition to implementing his idea, he will also be leading a team of 100 oceanographers, naval engineers, translators, designers, and others to help undertake his dream.
Thanks to the support of over 38,000 funders from 160 countries, The Ocean Cleanup took off after only 100 days, raising over $ 2 million. Not bad for a 20-year-old with a big idea.