We've reached our minimum target!! We can't thank you enough for your support!
Further resources will enable us to develop spin-offs aimed at intercepting plastic pollution in rivers, and speed up our feasibility study research.
18-year-old Boyan Slat came up with a concept that may be able to remove vast amounts of plastics from the oceans.
Now, together with a group of students, engineers, oceanographers and industry experts, he has set out to investigate and demonstrate its viability and feasibility.
"I don't know if it's possible, and that's exactly the reason I'm doing it."
The world's oceans are polluted with millions of tonnes of plastic.
Plastic reaches the oceans mostly from land through rivers and waterways, and then accumulates in five areas of high concentration, called oceanic gyres.
Not only do such 'garbage patches' directly kill millions of aquatic animals annually. They also spread harmful algae and other invasive species, and serves as a transport medium for pollutants (including PCBs and DDT), which accumulate in the food chain.
Plastic pollution costs governments, companies and individuals millions of dollars in damages per year, due to loss in tourism, vessel damages and (inefficient) beach clean-ups.
The ultimate solution to plastic pollution is clear: we need to close the tap by ending our reliance on disposable plastic items/packaging; we need proper waste management globally; and we need to become more aware of the problems our garbage is creating. Solving this massive problem will require dramatic changes at many levels- legislative, industrial, and individual.
However, even if we close the tap, we still need to clean up the massive quantities of plastic garbage already contaminating our oceans.
Current ideas to remediate the gyres are basically all derivatives of ships and nets that fish for plastic. Not only would these cleanups take an enormous amount of time, and carry astronomical operational costs, but would also kill or injure a significant amount of sea life and would not collect the smallest and even more harmful particles.
Use your enemy to your advantage
Problem: The plastic is not static, it moves around.
Solution: Why move through the oceans, if the oceans can move through you?
Fix the sea water processors to the sea bed, and save vast amounts of funds, manpower and emissions.
Smart use of booms
Problem: Oceanic 'Garbage Patches' are huge, and cleaning them up would result in enormous by-catches.
Furthermore there is a huge variety in debris sizes.
Solution: By using floating booms instead of nets, much larger areas will be covered.
Not using mesh means that even the smallest particles will be diverted and extracted. No mesh - together with its low speed - will result in virtually no by-catch.
Although this hypothesis still has yet to be tested, even the planktonic species - due to their density being close to that of the sea water - may move under the booms along with the water flow.
Problems: A clean-up operation would generate significant emissions and in high seas a great deal of plastic would escape.
Solution: The platforms will be completely self-supporting, receiving their energy from the sun, ocean currents and waves.
By letting the platforms' wings sway like a manta ray's, we can ensure contacts of the inlets with the surface, even in the roughest weather.
Boyan Slat wishes to confirm all assumptions made in his concept, and for that he and his global team is looking for a research budget.
With $80,000, we can cover all estimated costs to scientifically prove the concept's feasibility. Our research includes 35 research topics in the fields of engineering, oceanography, (geo)physics, ecology, finance, maritime law and recycling.
By (successfully) finishing this all-important study, we can continue with an open ocean pilot, followed by the actual full-scale execution of The Ocean Cleanup.
The main challenges lie in the scale and environmental conditions. If, due to these challenges, the concept turns out to be infeasible, further research efforts shall be directed towards adapting the concept for river deltas and coastal areas.
However, even if we can prove feasibility, we will still direct part of our resources towards developing plastic interception technologies, because we believe the tap has to be closed before a gyre cleanup should be commissioned.
Art pieces are made by Helen Retynsky Kamins.
Please add $20 for perks to be shipped outside of the Netherlands.
Follow our progress
Founder and President