The Ocean Cleanup

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Boyan Slat, CEO and Founder of The Ocean Cleanup
©The Ocean Cleanup

Boyan Slat, a young Dutch born in 1994, created what could be a game changer for the polluted oceans.

According to scholars as Eriksen (2014), more than 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic are currently in the oceans. That plastic is responsible of the death of more than 1 billions seabirds and more than 100.000 marine mammals, each year. Animal species are in danger because of that pollution, but not only. Because of the natural chain food, humans are also in danger. If a fish eats some plastic, that in most of the cases absorbs toxic chemicals released in water, then we can also be touched by consuming that same fish.

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Plastic pollution damages on a seabird
©The Ocean Cleanup

And despite the environmental and health big issues, there is also an important economic issue surrounding that plastic pollution. According to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) report in 2014, that ocean pollution is responsible of at least 13 billion of US Dollars damage every year to various industries, as tourism, shipping and fishing. Boyan claimed that by selling all the plastics harvested, could be a money maker “more than 500 million US dollars

At nineteen years old, during a diving session in Greece, Boyan Slat, discovered with stupefaction the plastic pollution visible under the sea, in that area. This is when that aerospace engineering student realized the importance of this issue, and decided to find a solution to help. Here is how ‘The Ocean Cleanup‘ project started.

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The V-shaped array
©The Ocean Cleanup

The Ocean Cleanup is a crowdfunding project that aim to clean oceans of plastic pollution through a V- shaped very long bloating barrier which enable the plastic to concentrate itself, without the need of any kind of electricity. The current pushes the plastic toward the center, thereby becoming more concentrate which enable an easy extraction. All the plastics harvested will then be recycled.

That array should be deployed later this year, off Tsushima cost between Japan and North-Korea. This area is part of the 5 biggest areas where currents converge, also called : gyres. A third of that pollution is concentrated in the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located in between Asia and America, more specifically, between the Japan and Hawaii. That Patch is largely made up of tiny bits of plastic trapped by ocean currents. The size of it is estimated to be bigger than the state Texas. And according to Jacqueline McGlade, the chief scientist at UNEP, the patch is growing so fast that it is beginning to be seen from outer space.

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