There are five areas in the world’s oceans that have accumulated vast quantities of garbage in the form of waste plastics.
One of these areas is in the Pacific Ocean, in-between Hawaii and California. Covering 1.6 million square kilometers, this is the largest problem and is now termed, “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” (GPGP)
It is estimated that 1.15 to 2.41 million tonnes of plastic are entering the ocean each year from rivers. More than half of this plastic is less dense than the water, meaning that it will not sink once it encounters the sea.
92% of all marine debris is plastic
700 marine species are impacted by plastic waste in our oceans
17% of these marine species are under threat. (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
And the food chain risk…
Once plastic is part of the marine food web that it will potentially contaminate the human food chain as well.
Boyan Slat leads a non-profit organization called The Ocean Cleanup which has been working to develop a technological solution to clean up this plastic waste. After years of research and trials, the team have developed a series of anchored booms that can be towed in to the open ocean.
Due to the booms moving with the currents at a slower rate than the floating plastics, the waste is collected. Finally the support ships recover the plastics from the water once the booms are full and the plastics are then taken to be recycled.
Slat states that, “by utilizing the ocean currents to our advantage, our passive drifting systems are estimated to clean up half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 5 years’ time.”
Watch Boyan Slat’s presentation on the GPGP solution
The Ocean Cleanup
When he was only eighteen years old and living in Delft Netherlands, Boyan Slat created The Ocean Cleanup. With the size of the problem, he has assembled a team of more than seventy computational modellers, engineers, researchers and scientists to work on the Ocean Cleanup project.