20-Year-Old’s Invention Will Rid The World’s Oceans Of Harmful Plastic Waste

While most 20-year-olds are spending their time drinking, partying, and figuring out their lives, Boyan Slat is hell-bent on cleaning up the world’s oceans.

The Ocean Cleanup

His goal? “To halve the amount of plastic debris floating in the Pacific within a decade.” And with about eight million tons of plastic dumped into the ocean every year, this young Dutchman’s The Ocean Cleanup project couldn’t come soon enough.

The Ocean Cleanup

At present, plastic waste in the oceans congregate within five rotating currents, or gyres, scattered throughout the world.

The Ocean Cleanup

The premise is simple: “why move through the oceans, if the oceans can move through you?” So Slat’s plan is to place enormous floating barriers right on these gyres to capture the plastic waste flowing through these areas.

The Ocean Cleanup

The barriers are huge V-shaped buffers — 6,500 feet wide and anchored by floating booms.

The Ocean Cleanup

These barriers aren’t nets, so there is no chance that animals will get caught in them. Furthermore, current will still flow freely beneath the booms, ensuring the safety of marine animals.

The Ocean Cleanup

Because plastic is buoyant, the barriers would essentially funnel them above the water’s surface, making extraction and disposal a lot easier.

The Ocean Cleanup

It’s a passive system that seems very simple, but in reality, The Ocean Cleanup has worked with 100 volunteer scientists and engineers to confirm that it is, indeed, a feasible and cost-effective method to rid the seas of garbage.

The Ocean Cleanup

Like all fledgling projects, there are some technical issues that have been raised by environmental watchdogs, such as Deep Sea News. However, The Ocean Cleanup’s plan is sound enough to move forward.

The Ocean Cleanup

In fact, it has been dubbed the largest maritime clean-up in history and is already set for deployment in 2016.

The Ocean Cleanup

And to think it all started with a 20-year-old with a huge idea.

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