Cleaning the oceans – Boyan Slat

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Boyan Slat is a 20-year-old on a mission – to rid the world’s oceans of floating plastic. He has dedicated his teenage years to finding a way of collecting it. But can the system really work – and is there any point when so much new plastic waste is still flowing into the sea every day?”

This technological proposal tackles the environmental problem of the millions of plastic bags that get into the ocean. Whether the system works or not it does not really matter; the importance of the proposal is that makes us aware of how such a common product like this entails a serious environmental issue.

At school, Slat developed his idea further as part of a science project. An array of floating barriers, anchored to the sea bed, would first catch and concentrate the floating debris. The plastic would move along the barriers towards a platform, where it could then be efficiently extracted. The ocean current would pass underneath the barriers, taking all buoyant sea life with it. There would be no emissions, and no nets for marine life to get entangled in. The collected ocean plastic would be recycled and made into products – or oil.

“This idea came to him at the age of 16, in the summer of 2011, when diving in Greece. “I saw more plastic bags than fish,” says Slat. He was shocked, and even more shocked that there was no apparent solution. “Everyone said to me: ‘Oh there’s nothing you can do about plastic once it gets into the oceans,’ and I wondered whether that was true.”

Over the last 30 to 40 years, millions of tonnes of plastic have entered the oceans. Global production of plastic now stands at 288 million tonnes per year, of which 10% ends up in the ocean in time. Most of that – 80% – comes from land-based sources.” BBC journalist, Vibeke Venema.

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(via BBC)

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