Cleaning Up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Boyan Slat’s ocean cleaning systems have been capturing and removing trash from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch since 2019.

The world’s oceans are in trouble. Millions of tons of plastic pollution enter the oceans each year. Winds and currents concentrate most of this trash into “garbage patches” such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP). As the name suggests, the GPGP is a huge swirling patch of trash in the Pacific Ocean. It is two times the size of Texas, with over 100 million kilograms of floating plastic. That is a big problem! Fortunately, a young Dutch inventor named Boyan Slat has a big solution.

Slat and his team at The Ocean Cleanup have a goal to remove 90% of floating ocean plastic pollution by 2040. Their solution has two parts: one part focuses on removing the floating plastic in the garbage patches, and the other focuses on stopping more plastic from entering the ocean by intercepting it in rivers.

The Ocean Cleanup started their cleanup efforts in 2019. Their work on the GPGP began with an ocean cleaning system that works as an artificial coastline that concentrates and removes the plastic. The original “Interceptor” was also deployed in 2019. Interceptors stop the flow of trash in rivers before it enters the ocean.

To date, Slat and his team have removed over 8 million kilograms of trash. They have 14 Interceptors in use in 7 different countries around the world. They are on the third iteration of their ocean cleaning system, which can clean an area the size of a football field every 5 seconds. They plan to use many cleaning systems of this size to tackle the GPGP.

What Do You Think? Will Slat and his team meet their goal by 2040? Why or why not?

Photo Credit: Abaca Press / Alamy Stock Photo