The Ocean Cleanup: a passive method of catching plastic debris

A 19-year-old entrepreneur has developed an offshore structure that captures plastic debris floating in the world's oceans.

Boyan Slat paused his Aerospace Engineering study to completely focus his efforts on "The Ocean Cleanup," an array of floating barriers that catches and concentrate the plastic, enabling a platform to efficiently extract it afterwards.

Nearly 90% of all rubbish floating in the world's oceans is plastic. It is killing marine life, and polluting shores and beaches around the planet. Slat believes that instead of wasting energy by going after the plastics, we should simply wait for the plastic to come to us.

"I wondered, why move through the oceans, if the oceans can move through you? By attaching a system of long floating arms to the seabed, the oceans could basically clean themselves," underlines Boyan Slat.

One of the main advantages of this passive cleanup concept is that it is scalable. Because nets are not used, this passive cleanup system is harmless to the ecosystem.

The plastic collection rate will total 65 m3/day, which means the plastic collected has to be picked up by a ship every 45 days.

After completing a 530-page feasibility study, Boyan Slat's team started thinking on the second moment of the project: the pilot phase. "The Ocean Cleanup" prototype costs two million dollars, and a crowd funding plea has already kicked off.

Every year we produce about 300 million tons of plastic, a portion of which enters and accumulates in the oceans. At least one million seabirds, and hundreds of thousands of marine mammals die each year due to the pollution.

The removal of garbage from coastlines costs up to $25,000 per ton of plastic.

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