We have been hearing about the huge collections of plastics and other rubbish floating in the sea for years, with the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” probably the most well known and certainly the largest. These garbage patches in the ocean leech toxins such as PCB and DDT into the water as well as slowly breaking down and entering the foodchain as microscopic polymers.
As these areas are in international waters, governments around the world are slow to act on any environmental cleanup efforts, and as such they continue to grow. And this is where the Ocean Cleanup Array comes in.
19-year-old Boyan Slat developed the idea of the array after winning prizes for his school project that analyzed the size and amount of plastic particles in the ocean’s garbage patches, with the design unveiled at TedxDelft 2012.
The device itself is an anchored network of floating booms that act as a funnel, with the oceans currents pushing the garbage towards the device’s solar powered processing platforms that would separate out the plastics for storing and recycling.
Not content with simply doing the research and imagining the array, Slat has also founded the Ocean Cleanup Foundation, a non-profit organisation created to develop and fund the cleanup array, with the cleanup of a patch estimated to take around five years.