Cleaning up the Ocean in Five Years

Nineteen year old Boyan Slat claims he can clean up the world’s oceans in five years.  Best of all, he would turn a profit.


The Pacific Ocean has an area with millions of floating plastic debris particles.  This area is better known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” because this gyre accumulates all the marine debris.

In years past, scientists and environmental activists noted that using ships, fuel, and expensive manpower would negate the effects of cleaning the world’s oceans.  It simply would cost too much and take too long.  Imagine huge ships towing nets to filter tiny plastic particles.  This process wouldn’t be sustainable.

Humpback Fluke 2

Boyan Slot thought why not use the enemy (gyres) to his advantage?  He wants to anchor solar powered floating marine debris removal stations in the ocean and let the currents bring the plastic to the stations.  Instead of sailing a boat to the plastic, let the plastic float into a filtration system where it would be separated from living marine organisms, including plankton.

Slot tested separation techniques and discovered zooplankton can survive g-forces of up to 50 when put into a centrifuge.  This technique will separate plastic from plankton cleaning the ocean in as little as five years time.

Do you think this could succeed?  Should non-profits join in the cause; should governments invest money into the process; should private companies invest and reap the benefits of selling the recovered plastics?

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