Single-use plastic is everywhere. We see it the soil, and we see it in the waters. According to experts, one million plastic bottles are sold every minute. Up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used each year.
How can we solve the problem with plastic pollution? It’s like going back in time. Some areas look as if the Horseman of the Apocalypse have arrived.
Have you seen the photos of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch? It’s horrible! The plastic debris is built up by ocean currents in the Pacific Ocean, north east of Hawaii.
The garbage patch is the size of Queensland, Australia. These currents have trapped trillion pieces of debris.
Boyan Slat came up with a huge idea. He spent a year testing his Ocean Cleanup system. It collects plastic debris from the ocean and “uses the natural oceanic forces to rapidly and cost-effectively clean up the plastic already in the oceans.“
“With a full fleet of Cleanup systems in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, we aim to clean up 50% of its plastic every five years.”
The design of the system was revised on multiple occasions since 2013. It’s a 600-meter floating boom. It was first launched from Vancouver in June 2019. According to the cleanup team, the results were “a feat we were pleasantly surprised to achieve.”
“Our ocean cleanup system is now finally catching plastic, from one-ton ghost nets to tiny microplastics! Also, anyone missing a wheel?” Slat wrote next to the photo he shared.
During a press conference in Rotterdam, the entrepreneur explained the benefits of his invention.
“We are now catching plastics … After beginning this journey seven years ago, this first year of testing in the unforgivable environment of the high seas strongly indicates that our vision is attainable and that the beginning of our mission to rid the ocean of plastic garbage, which has accumulated for decades, is within our sights. We now have a self-contained system in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that is using the natural forces of the ocean to passively catch and concentrate plastics … This now gives us sufficient confidence in the general concept to keep going on this project.”
The garbage they collect is sent to the shore and later recycled. This project will be of great help for the problem with plastic pollution, and Slat is impressed with the results.
“I think in a few years’ time when we have the full-scale fleet out there, I think it should be possible to cover the operational cost of the cleanup operation using the plastic harvested,” he said.
Slat’s team works on boosting the durability of the system. The new System 002 is a full-scale cleanup system. It’s expected to endure and retain plastic for a year or even longer.
To make the clean up happen, it’s not just a technical challenge but also financial, because [with] international waters, there’s not an owner of the Garbage Patch that sees the value in cleaning it.
Basically, it’s no one’s problem, but at the same time, we believe it’s everyone’s problem.
What we hope is that by making beautiful, sustainable products out of this catch, we can give an opportunity for everyone to be part of the solution and participate in the cleanup.
It’s not just plastic, it’s plastic with a story, like the difference between a normal rock and a piece of the moon. Hopefully, eventually we’re successful, the Garbage Patch is history and will not be there anymore, and then there will still be these cool products that will remind us of it existing back in the day.”
Slat came up with an incredible idea, and hopefully, his invention will encourage others to do something similar. This world needs more inventions of this type.
Plastic suffocates us, and we need to limit its use. Slat’s system will clean the patch within a few years. According to him, we should focus on the source of the problem. This includes cleaning up the rivers that flow into oceans.