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Boyan Slat, 20: his plan to save the oceans

Posted on 17 March 2014.

“Human history is basically a list of things that couldn't be done, and then were done.” - Boyan Slat

Don’t be fooled by his wide-eyed look and teenage surfer appearance. Before he had even turned 20, this Dutchman from Delft in South-Holland was already thinking big. He has created a project called The Ocean Cleanup that aims to clear our oceans of the 7.5 million metric tons of plastic waste – 30% of total marine pollution – floating in the North and South Pacific, the North and South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, all in just 25 years.

The Ocean Cleanup: a brilliant idea

When Captain Charles Moore discovered a vortex of plastic waste the size of Texas in the North Pacific in 1997, there was dismay. It would take 1,000 years for the waste to decompose, and experts estimated that it would take 79,000 years to clean up.

Sixteen years later, aerospace engineering student Boyan Slat came up with a revolutionary idea: use floating booms, attached to a fixed platform, to pick up the waste transported by marine currents without impeding the movement of plankton. As a result, marine species would be protected and the fish we eat would be free from any traces of pollutants. A truly creative idea from a nature lover who is passionate about photography and deep-sea diving.

In 2012, Slat was presented an award from the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment and another by his university for “Best Technical Design”.

A study is now underway to determine the feasibility of The Ocean Cleanup and young Boyan has every intention of making it a reality.

Find out more at Boyan Slat’s official website and on the project’s Twitter feed @TheOceanCleanup

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