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Sweeping The Oceans Clean

March 27, 2013

So a teenager has designed a system to hoover up large amounts of plastic pollution from the ocean:

19-year-old Boyan Slat has unveiled plans to create an Ocean Cleanup Array that could remove 7,250,000 tons of plastic waste from the world’s oceans. The device consists of an anchored network of floating booms and processing platforms that could be dispatched to garbage patches around the world. Instead of moving through the ocean, the array would span the radius of a garbage patch, acting as a giant funnel. The angle of the booms would force plastic in the direction of the platforms, where it would be separated from plankton, filtered and stored for recycling.

This is exactly the sort of ambitious, creative, silver-bullet thinking that I believe is one of our only hopes to try and slow or reverse the growing and regrettable impact humans are having everywhere on the planet.

There is, of course, a huge difference between design and execution, and I know enough about the sea, and the law of unintended consequences, to know that successful operation of something like this is far from certain. Still, nicely done and we can only hope that the ranks of technology entrepreneurs aiming to protect the planet keep growing.

Here’s the non-profit Slat founded to try and make his idea a reality.And here is Slat explaining his concept at TedX:

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