It’s a very scary thought – since we humans started making plastic, millions of tons of it have entered our oceans. Plastic NEVER biodegrades, and so it simply bobs around in the sea. Due to the movement of the water around the world, this discarded rubbish concentrates in five rotating currents, called gyres.
At least one million seabirds and one hundred thousand marine mammals die each year due to plastic pollution. The survival of many species could be jeopardized by plastic debris. On top of that, plastic pollution is a carrier of invasive species, threatening native ecosystems, to say nothing of the economic and health effects this plastic waste has on human beings.
While diving in Greece, Boyan Slat became frustrated when coming across more plastic bags than fish, and wondered: “why can’t we clean this up?” He decided to dedicate half a year of research to understand plastic pollution and the problems associated with cleaning it up. This ultimately led to the passive cleanup concept, The Ocean Cleanup. A team of approximately 100 committed people, performing research in the fields of engineering, physical oceanography, ecology, finance, maritime law, processing and recycling, are all working to make this concept a reality.
An array of floating barriers and platforms are attached to the sea bed to concentrate the plastic before extracting it from the ocean – a collection process which is 100% driven by the natural winds and currents. Instead of nets, solid floating barriers make entanglement of wildlife impossible. Virtually all of the current flows underneath these booms, taking away all neutrally buoyant organisms, while the lighter-than-water plastic remains in front of the floating barrier, up to the microscopically sized particles. The scalable array of moorings and booms is designed for large-scale deployment, covering millions of square kilometers. Thanks to its projected high capture and field efficiency, a single gyre can be covered in just 5 years. The method is theoretically highly cost-effective.
A feasibility study is being held, but funding is needed. What worthier cause than the health of our beautiful oceans? 10% of all The Silver Forge sales will be donated to The Ocean Cleanup this month. Head to my shop now to help out, won’t you? I love to support enterprising and hardworking people dedicating themselves to the future of our planet!