Charlie Buttrey

October 22, 2021

There are more than 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean, most of them in five separate gyres — slow-moving whirlpools that pull litter from thousands of miles away into a single radius.

Nine years ago, a then 18-year-old Dutch entrepreneur named Boyan Slat, thought he could do something about this.

It turns out he may have found the solution.

Slat’s developed a system of two boats dragging a very long net in a U-shape behind them. It’s carbon-neutral, able to capture microplastics as small as 1 millimeter in diameter, and was designed to pose absolutely no threat to wildlife thanks to its wide capture area, slow motion, alerts, and camera monitors that allow operators to spy any overly-curious marine life.

In the first test of his updated system, Slat recovered 20,000 pounds of ocean trash, which he plans to turn into designer sunglasses, and apply the earnings from sales for the shades to support the nonprofit that he has created so that it can continue cleaning up the ocean.

Slat estimates ten such systems could clean half the garbage patch in five years, and if 10 of them were deployed to the five major ocean gyres, then 90% of all floating plastic could be removed by 2040.

Meanwhile, his nonprofit has also launched a number of ‘interceptor’ barges to clean up polluting rivers, intercepting plastic before it reaches the ocean.

Fun fact: a little over a hundred years ago, there was literally no plastic in the ocean. That’s because there was literally no plastic anywhere on earth.

© 2020 Charlie Buttrey Law by Nomad Communications