You may have heard of beach clean ups, but have you heard of The Ocean Clean Up?
The objective of beach clean ups is to pick up the impressive amount of garbage that piles up on our planet’s beautiful shorelines. In addition to creating a very unpleasant beach experience for you and your family, it also causes serious environmental harm. What could be clean and idyllic stretches of fine sand end up being a landfill full of non-degradable material that is threatening our planet’s health. The cause of all this? The thousands of tons of all sorts of plastic in our oceans, some of which has been purposely dumped, some of which has landed in the seas through carelessness, ignorance or accidents. No matter the cause, it is an ocean sized problem!
To fight this urgent issue, the 18-year-old Dutch inventor Boyan Slat founded the Ocean Cleanup, in 2013, based on the beach clean up initiative. This not for profit organization develops advanced technologies utilizing the ocean currents to rid the oceans of plastic. After 3 years of extensive research, the organization built an alarming diagnosis of our world’s oceans’ health. There are five main areas where plastic is mainly concentrated. These areas are called Ocean garbage patches or gyres. Cleaning up these gyres has become the organization’s main objective as plastic tends to spread across millions of square kilometres. Over the years plastic also breaks up into micro plastic creating confusion amongst marine wildlife who mistake those particles for food.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch located off the coast of California is the world’s largest concentration of plastic and expands on an area that is three times the size of France. You may want to watch this video for a better understanding of the study and the consequences of plastic consumption.
So what were the results of their study? The deployment of an extremely advanced passive system which moves with the ocean’s currents. The U-shaped system consists of a 600-meter long floater sitting at the surface of the water preventing plastic from flowing over the buoying concept. Attached to the latter is a 3 meter deep skirt preventing the particles from escaping underneath. Using the current, the system slowly moves collecting all plastic within its boundaries.
The objective of the organization with the help of this passive technology is to remove 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 5 years’ time and we can’t wait for their success!
This young engineer’s incredible ambition deserves a round of applause! Let’s also ensure we do not get in the way of this initiative’s success and clean up after ourselves! Next time that wrapper flies out of your hand caught by the wind or that plastic water bottle rolls down the hill, be sure to go get it; it really isn’t that far for it to end up in our water table. Maybe even go a step further and think twice about that item you are purchasing wrapped in so much plastic packaging. Maybe there is a better alternative that won’t ever end up in our oceans.
Photo courtesy of The Ocean Cleanup