A 23-year-old Dutch inventor named Boyan Slat has figured out a way to clean up the Earth's oceans: by deploying the world's first ocean plastic cleanup system. It is a 2,000 foot floating barrier, that Slat has named System 001 and it will make its way from San Francisco into the Pacific Ocean, collecting plastic on its journey. The Dutch environmental start-up, Ocean Cleanup Foundation, launched this device last month. The system's ultimate destination is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is a swirling collection of plastic waste that has ballooned to a size that is two times larger than the state of Texas. This barrier is held in position by ocean currents between California and Hawaii.
Slat projects that an array of 60 different plastic pickup systems can reduce the amount of plastic in the area by half by the year 2025. This new system is solid and not a net, which is great because that way the sea life will not get entangled. It is a U-shaped pipe that is connected to a 3 meter deep net that helps to trap litter. The system will collect the plastic and make it ready to be collected by boats and subsequently taken for recycling by using GPS-enabled buoys and satellite receptors. Every few months, a garbage hauling boat will make trips to remove the collected plastic.
The U.N. says over 8 million tons of plastic still enter the oceans each year. The goal of this new system is to turn the collected plastic into something that can be reused, like a helmet, coat hanger or even a tooth brush, and is not just for a single use. By doing so, this tactic will reduce the chances of the plastic then ending right back in the ocean. Slat will be monitoring the progress of this system and hopes that the results of the barrier prove worthwhile. The plastic in the ocean has been an epidemic for some time and this new invention seems like a promising step into cleaner waters.