“We are going to close the tap !”
This was the phrase the inventor and CEO Boyan Slat used in his speech, October 26th 2019, when he unveiled The Ocean Cleanup newest plan, to address the main source of Ocean Plastic Pollution. Rivers.
It all began in Greece - 2013.
The, at the time, 16 year old Boyan Slat went out Scuba Diving, and had a striking experience.
The Ocean, in which he plunged, was filled with plastic. As he explained in a Ted Talk one year later, he saw more plastic than fish.
This scuba dive became a wake up call, and gave him a deep desire to “clean it up”. He wanted to invent a scalable solution, that could eliminate the plastic pollution in the Oceans.
And so he did.
The non profit organization “The Ocean Cleanup” is the worlds most ambitious project with the mission to rid the Oceans of Plastic.
Over the Years, The Ocean Cleanup has developed advanced technologies, to implement directly in the center of the mess.
The first project was to place a Collector in the great pacific garbage patch, located between California and Hawaii. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an area twice the size of texas filled with plastic. The Ocean Cleanup estimated that they can remove 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage patch in just five years, and at a fraction of the cost.
But how ?
The invention or system - the “Collector” is simplest explained, a manmade, floating coastal line, where there is non.
Though it is at the open sea, - so to en order that the system will not be destroyed, - and can be implemented, - the natural oceanic forces, increases the survivability of the system in the harsh Ocean environment. The system is carried by the wind, waves and current, - just like the plastic is.
But to catch the plastic, which is the purpose of the project, the projects made sure to create a difference of speed between the system and the plastics, - simply by using a type of anchor !
The floating system is designed to capture plastic varied in size. Ranging from tiny pieces just millimeters in size, up to large debris - like for instance huge ghost nets (discarded fishing nets).
The first system was deployed in 2018 and today it shows very successful results.
One of Boyan Slats most famous quotes is : “Big problems requires big solutions”
And The Ocean Cleanup aimes to deploy this type of collector system in each of the five Ocean gyres. With the results so far, their belief is that they will be able to remove 90% of the Ocean Plastic by 2040.
Though, ever since the Ocean Cleanup was founded, there has been skepticism and criticism towards the project. Some criticism came from Marine Biologists worrying about The Ocean Cleanup Collectors impact on marine life, some NGO´s were purely just skeptical due to the projects financial support and positive acknowledgements, and other critics was towards The Ocean Cleanup fixing the problem when it had already gone too far…
But this criticism would seem to have been yet another motivating factor.
In October 2019, Boyan Slat unveiled The Ocean Cleanup latest plan, to address the main source of Ocean Plastic Pollution. Rivers.
Working on eliminating the source to the problem as well,
The Ocean Cleanup decided to aim to tackle plastic pollution by focusing on rivers, since their research the past years found, that approx. 1.000 rivers out of the worlds 100.000 rivers are responsible for roughly 80% of the plastic pollution ending up in the Oceans.
These 1.000 rivers are located all over the world and The Ocean Cleanups goal is to establish collaborations with government leaders, individuals, and private corporations, to tackle these 1000 most polluting rivers, - in only five years from rollout.
By doing so, The Ocean Cleanup presents their newest invention to implement in rivers and prevent plastic from entering the world´s Oceans - The Interceptor.
The Interceptor is 100% solar-powered and extracts plastic autonomously. In fact, the Interceptor can work 24/7, and only stops when it´s full - which is at 50 square meters.
In one day, one Interceptor can extract 50.000 kilograms of plastic ! - And The Ocean Cleanup states, that in optimal conditions, up to 100.000 kilograms can be achieved.
The Interceptor has already been tested.
The development of the Interceptor began in 2015 and the first prototype was deployed in Cengkareng Drain in Jakarta in 2016. A second Interceptor followed, also in 2016, deployed in Klang River, (one of the 50 most polluting rivers according to The Ocean Cleanups research) running though Kuala Lumpur.
These two systems are already operational and the results are very promising.
December 10th 2020, Boyan Slat announced the 3rd generation of the Interceptor, - as well as
The Ocean Cleanups partnership with Konecranes. Together, they are preparing a series production of the Interceptor, in order to be ready for the global scaleup and deployment.
“To truly rid the Oceans of Plastic, we need to both clean up the legacy and close the tap, preventing more plastic from reaching the Oceans in the first place. Combining our Ocean cleanup technology with the Interceptor, the solutions now exist to address both sides of the equation” said Boyan Slat, Founder and CEO at the live announcement of the Interceptor, October the 26th 2019.