Earth’s oceans are overloaded with plastic bags and other kinds of synthetic debris, which can be deadly for aquatic animals and detrimental to the marine environment in general. According to a 2014 study, there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic weighing 269,000 tons dispersed in oceans! This pollution is estimated to harm 100,000 sea turtles and marine mammals and 1,000,000 ocean animals each year.
Fortunately, there are some people who are concerned about this problem and are going to do something about it. Remember that 19 year old inventor (now 21) that developed the brilliant “ocean cleanup array” plan that we reported about? In 2013, Boyan Slat, founder and CEO of Dutch-registered nonprofit organization The Ocean Cleanup, developed a trash collector which was promised to clean up the world’s oceans in just 5 years. Now, he announced that this ambitious project is going to be deployed in 2016.
The ocean cleanup is planned to start off the coast of Tsushima, an island located between Japan and South-Korea, suffering from a massive plastic pollution problem – it is estimated that one cubic meter of pollution per person gets to the ocean each year. The 2000-meter long system will become the longest floating structure in history and will operate for at least two years.
How does the system work? It is an anchored network of floating barriers which collect plastic debris with the help of ocean currents. Thus, the ocean will basically clean itself! After debris gets settled at these barriers, it can be removed or collected to be processed later.
The main goal of Ocean Cleanup is to develop the technological ways to extract and prevent plastic pollution of the oceans. Within five years, the company plans to launch a 100-kilometer long system in the waters between Hawaii and California. According to the Ocean Cleanup’s computer modeling, it would allow to clean up nearly half of the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a massive collection of plastic particles in the Pacific, in ten years.
“Taking care of the world’s ocean garbage problem is one of the largest environmental challenges mankind faces today. Not only will this first cleanup array contribute to cleaner waters and coasts but it simultaneously is an essential step towards our goal of cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” Slat said.
Here’s the video explaining everything you need to know about the project:
Images credit: The Ocean Cleanup