On Thursday, Boyan Slat, CEO of The Ocean Cleanup, discussed new information regarding his team’s efforts to remove all the plastic currently floating on the surfaces of the world’s oceans. In front of a large crowd of curious supporters, researchers, and journalists, Slat revealed that within twelve months his team will be able to launch the first operational device to begin removing plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The Ocean Cleanup project was originally slated to begin in 2020, but thanks to a new design and additional funding, the team will move forward ahead of schedule.
Boyan Slat first made headlines in 2013 when he announced his plan for a netless method of cleaning up the world’s oceans. Currently, there are five massive ocean garbage patches, or subtropical gyres, where plastic concentrates and accumulates. Slat founded The Ocean Cleanup to address the problem of the garbage patches by removing the plastic before it breaks down into microplastics, as well as to encourage a reduction of the use of plastics. The company operates under the principle of working with and mimicking the patterns of nature. The project was originally envisioned as large U-shaped screens that use the waves and currents of the ocean to pull in the plastic junk to a central point. Slat described the project as a sort of “plastic magnet.” This technology eliminates the need for large fishing nets, which are often left in the ocean and end up becoming “ghost nets.” The best part is the circular nature of the project; all of the extracted plastic will be collected and recycled.
The launch date was also moved up due to a successful funding round, which has raised 21.7 million dollars in donations since November 2016. This brings the total funding to $31.5 million since 2013. The Ocean Cleanup project has continued to receive support from members of the public, as well as private institutions since their founding. This may be due, in part, to the fact that Slat and his crew have continuously provided updates to their supporters and achieved several milestones on their path to cleaning the oceans. For example, in June 2016, The Ocean Cleanup deployed a 100-meter segment in the North Sea off the coast of The Netherlands. This marked the first real world testing of the barrier design. The Ocean Cleanup team also launched a series of reconnaissance flights in order to study the plastic problem.
“At The Ocean Cleanup we are always looking for ways to make the cleanup faster, better and cheaper,” Slat stated. “Today is another important day in moving in that direction. The cleanup of the world’s oceans is just around the corner.”
Boyan Slat is a young genius and a great reminder of the potential that lies within each of us. His work and the work of everyone at The Ocean Cleanup has inspired 31 million dollars in donations. The successful funding of this project is also a beautiful reminder that the people do not need the State in order to solve the problems of the world. Public support and funding from private individuals and organizations can inspire innovation and lead to a healthier, freer world.