A Millennial’s Solution to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch Problem



ocean cleanup

A close-up computer rendering of The Ocean Cleanup system. ERWIN ZWART/THE OCEAN CLEANUP

“Let’s face it – humans are by nature careless with trash”

With an exponential increase in plastic and waste materials throughout the years, it was time for an ocean cleanup solution conceived by a Millennial. The problem of plastic pollution, and waste material contamination has tripled. Due to general ignorance or/and carelessness, greed (and you name it) the pollution rate has become so radical, that it has compromised the welfare of animals, both marine and terrestrial. Garbologist and engineers argue that at the rate we are going, there will soon be more plastic than fish in our oceans. Thankfully, something is being done about it – and on a massive scale too.

The Dutch inventor Boyan Slat founded The Ocean Cleanup at the age of 18 in his hometown of Delft, the Netherlands – the revolutionary machine was finally launched in September 2018. 


Ocean cleanup

Image credit: Entangled Turtle by Francis Perez


“The Ocean Cleanup plans to monitor the performance of the beta, called System 001, and have an improved fleet of 60 more units skimming the ocean for plastics in about a year a half. The ultimate goal of the project, founded by Dutch inventor Boyan Slat when he was 18, is to clean up 50% of the patch in five years, with a 90% reduction by 2040.” – Jeff Kart, Forbes. 


What is the Pacific Garbage Patch? 

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a vortex of trash created from an ocean gyre in the central North Pacific. According to a National Geographic article,

“an ocean gyre is a large system of circular ocean currents formed by global wind patterns and forces created by Earth’s rotation. Three forces cause the circulation of a gyre: global wind patterns, Earth’s rotation, and Earth’s landmasses. Wind drags on the ocean surface, causing water to move in the direction the wind is blowing. Ocean gyres circle large areas of stationary, calm water. Debris drifts into these areas and, due to the region’s lack of movement, can accumulate for years. These regions are called garbage patches.

The Indian Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, and the North Pacific Ocean all have significant garbage patches. The garbage patch in the North Pacific Ocean is sometimes called the Pacific trash vortex or the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Garbage patches are created slowly. Marine debris makes its way into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, for instance, from currents flowing along the west coast of North America and the east coast of Asia. Some of the debris is also dumped from ocean vessels.”

ocean cleanup

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

What is The Ocean Clean Up?

“The Ocean Cleanup is a non-profit organization, developing advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. By utilizing the ocean currents to our advantage, our passive drifting systems are estimated to clean up half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 5 years’ time.”


The Ocean Cleanup team


First Of Many Steps

There are a few steps that people, like Boyan Slat, had to take in order to execute something as game-changing as the Ocean Cleanup. 

STEP ONE: Education and awareness – in terms of environmental education offered at secondary schools, Holland is definitely up there. At the ripe age of 18, Slat managed not only to fund The Ocean CleanUp, but relatively soon afterwards, launch the first prototype in the North Sea

STEP TWO: Identify the problem. Slat identified the problem: there is so much technology out there and environmentally-driven foundations, yet the pollution problem in the sea is not being resolved. In fact, it’s getting worse. Most of the systems currently used, create major harmful bi-products and are costly.

STEP THREE: Theorise options and put them in to practice via accessible resources and means. There should be a passive way of implementing long-lasting ocean cleanups. Slat invented a passive concentration system. 

“Going after it with vessels and nets would be costly, time-consuming, labour-intensive and lead to vast amounts of carbon emission and by-catch. That is why The Ocean Cleanup is developing a passive system.  Moving with the currents – just like the plastic – to catch it. The system consists of a 600-meter-long floater that sits at the surface of the water and a tapered 3-meter-deep skirt attached below. The floater provides buoyancy to the system and prevents plastic from flowing over it.  The skirt stops debris from escaping underneath. As the system moves through the water, the plastic continues to collect within the boundaries of the U-shaped system.” 

STEP FOUR: Test it out. At the ripe age of 18, Slat managed to not only to fund The Ocean Clean Up, but in a relatively short period also launched the first prototype in the North Sea. After getting in touch with people from different fields, Slat has managed to gather an innovative team that is currently, making history. 


ocean cleanup

First North Sea prototype deployed, June 2016


STEP FIVE: Work hard, consistently. The Ocean CleanUp, has now been running for a few years and has captured the attention of expert minds from all over the world. In September 2018, the machine was sent out to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. 



STEP SIX: Have goals and keep working at them.  Find out more about The Ocean Clean Up’s milestones 




The Ocean Cleanup is looking to bridge the funding from System 001 to scale-up. With your help, they can continue their research, improve their system and accelerate the largest cleanup in history.

If you are interested in funding your own cleanup system or making a contribution, please contact them through funding@theoceancleanup.com.

 Alternatively, make a donation here – https://www.theoceancleanup.com/support/.


#plasticpollution #oceancleanup #environment #greatpacificgarbagepatch #plastic #protectouroceans #marinelife #oceanawareness #cleanup 


For more water-related news and tricks follow us on FacebookInstagram


Author: Reporter @ Amanzi

Share This Post On
468 ad

Submit a Comment