As a teenager, Boyan Slat read about the giant plastic islands floating in the worlds oceans. Six years later his foundation is about to launch the longest floating structure in the world, designed to rid the world’s oceans of plastic pollutants.
Touted to be the largest cleanup in history, Slat’s foundation The Ocean Cleanup will place a 6500 feet (2000 meters) long array to collect plastics drifting in the ocean off Japan.
The system is designed to work with ocean currents to passively collect plastic pollutants. The system is passive in the sense that ocean currents are used to push plastic waste into the gyres and toward a central point where it is collected. Marine-life is able to pass underneath the gyres due to their floating on the surface of the water.
The system will be deployed off the coast of Tsushima island in the Korea Strait. Around 1 cu m (35 cu ft) of pollution per person is said to be washed up each year at Tsushima, prompting the Japanese government to seek innovative solutions to the problem.
However this is just the beginning of Slat’s ultimate plan; to rid the ocean of the great garbage patches found in the worlds oceans. The great pacific garbage patch for example is estimated to be at least the size of Texas and has a pollutant density seven times that of zooplankton found in the area.
A number of deployments increasing in scale are planned over the next five years, leading, ultimately, to a 100-km-long (62-mi-long) system at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, between Hawaii and California.
The Ocean Cleanup website states: “The Ocean Cleanup’s research into the feasibility of its concept indicates that using a single 100 km (62 miles) clean up array, deployed for 10 years, will passively remove 42% of the great pacific garbage patch.”
“Taking care of the world’s ocean garbage problem is one of the largest environmental challenges mankind faces today. Not only will this first cleanup array contribute to cleaner waters and coasts but it simultaneously is an essential step towards our goal of cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This deployment will enable us to study the system’s efficiency and durability over time.”
Image: Ocean Cleanup (c)