“Each year, 8 million tons of plastic— the equivalent of a garbage truck load every minute — is dumped into the ocean, according to the World Economic Forum.
The Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit engineering environmental organization based in the Netherlands, is attempting to remove as much of that plastic as is feasible.
“Our strategy is really twofold,” The Ocean Cleanup CEO and Founder Boyan Slat said on Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “On one hand, stop the source, preventing more plastic from going into the oceans and rivers. But at the same time, there’s already a lot of legacy plastic in the ocean, especially this Great Pacific Garbage Patch between Hawaii and California. It’s massive and it doesn’t go away by itself. So we have to clean that up.”
The Ocean Cleanup has deployed three Interceptors in rivers in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Dominican Republic to keep plastic from entering oceans. The solar-powered barrier and conveyor system uses river currents to funnel plastic into containers that can be brought back to land and sorted through.
The ultimate aim is to develop “the first scalable technology” to remove plastic from Earth’s waters, Slat said.
Ocean Cleanup is targeting garbage patches, which are areas where circulating ocean currents amass plastic in large concentrations.
Because most plastics don’t break down for hundreds of years, the debris accumulates over time.
The most prominent garbage patch, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,is estimatedto contain 79,000 tons of plastic across an area of over half a million square miles. The detritus is primarily made up of microplastics, which the National Ocean Service defines as “small plastic pieces less than five millimeters long which can be harmful to our ocean and aquatic life.”
Ocean Cleanup’s approach draws inspiration from the natural world — and coastlines, in particular.
“If you look at coastlines, coastlines are actually very effective ways of catching plastic,” Slat said. “If you see it on the beach, it’s out of the ocean, stays out of the ocean.”
That gave Slat and his team members the idea of building coastlines in the middle of the ocean….”
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