Boyan Slat was just 16 when he discovered that there was more plastic in the ocean than in the rivers.
When a Dutch inventor observed that there's more plastic in the water bodies than fish, he decided to change it. Boyan Slat was just 16 when he discovered the disheartening truth during a diving trip to Greece, reports Bored Panda. Slat was appalled to see the coast filled with plastic and swore to dedicate his time creating a device that would clean up the ocean. Eventually, he founded The Ocean Cleanup, which aims "to clean up 90% of ocean plastic pollution." Then, he created a passive floating device to collect plastic dumped in the ocean—but didn't stop there.
"Today, I am very proud to share with you that we are now catching plastics," said the young CEO when he first announced his new invention, reports CNN. The system, a U-shaped barrier with a net-like skirt that hangs below the surface of the water, moves along with the current of water and collects faster-moving plastics as they swim by. The system allows fishes and other creatures residing in the water to swim beneath it. "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, thereby confirming the most important principle behind the ocean cleanup system," said Slat at the time.
Recently, Slat came up with solar-powered barges that can be used to remove plastic from rivers and prevent them from entering the ocean. The mission of Slat's project is to develop advanced technology that could help remove the plastic-contents in the ocean. It also aims at disassembling and cleaning the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is a stretch of marine debris from California to Japan. "The Ocean Cleanup is developing a passive cleanup method, which 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," reads the website.
After managing to collect two shipping containers filled with trash from the area over the years, Slat decided to return to the source and solve the underlying problems by "treating the symptoms." The engineer and conservationist then found that there were around 1000 river bodies in the world which are responsible for about 80 percent of the plastic that ends up in the oceans. Hoping to tackle this problem, the young man created an inceptor, "a scalable solution to efficiently intercept plastics in rives before it reaches the oceans."
This solar-powered barge has been created carefully to remove the river debris and then bring it onshore for recycling. According to the outlet, one such barge cane easily collects up to 110 tons of garbage, which would have otherwise entered the ocean. Their aim is to reduce the amount of waste that enters the ocean on a daily basis. He hopes to place these "Inceptor" barges in every one of the world's most polluted rivers by 2025. Now, this is their long-term aim and currently the non-profit is busy cleaning the Cengkareng Drain in Jakarta, Indonesia, and the Klang River in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
"Our team has remained steadfast in its determination to solve immense technical challenges to arrive at this point. Though we still have much more work to do, I am eternally grateful for the team’s commitment and dedication to the mission and look forward to continuing to the next phase of development," he said, according to the outlet. If you wish to support their mission, you can do so by nominating rivers and making appeals to your local governments. Additionally, you can donate money to help the non-profit built more inceptors that can be placed in rivers that need to be cleaned.