Boyan Slat, a 19-years-old Dutchman, has provided a feasibility report which concludes that its concept is a practicable method to remove plastic from the oceans. The Dutchman's report is a result of over one year of broad scientific research in oceanography, engineering, maritime law, ecology, recycling and finance. If the proposed system is deployed, almost half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch plastic can be cut out. The young scientist has founded The Ocean Cleanup Foundation.
“I first became aware of the plastic pollution problem when diving in Greece, coming across more plastic bags than fish. Unfortunately, the plastic does not go away by itself. Hence I wondered: Why can’t we clean this up?” he said.
The cleanup process has always been reckoned impossible. It has been considered it would cost thousands of years and billions of dollars and after all, the benefits would likely be canceled out by the vessels' emissions and bycatch.
“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,” added the young scientist.
The report of Boyan Slat includes 530 pages with a method that has been concluded as financially and technically viable. The concept of the teenager uses the natural winds and currents of the ocean as a method of passive transport of the plastic towards a gathering platform.
The execution of series of up-scaling tests is needed before the full implementation of the concept. The Ocean Cleanup will facilitate the test by outsourcing most of the fundamental research in order to minimize costs. It is estimated that the execution of the next phase will cost approximately $2 million. The Ocean Cleanup Foundation has already announced a campaign for new crowd funding.
“Although a cleanup will have a profound effect, it is just part of the solution. We also need to close the tap, to prevent any more plastic from reaching the oceans in the first place,” said Boyan Slat.