Boyan Slat is a 19-year-old engineering student who has detailed plans for a concept Ocean Cleanup system that could help remove over 7 million tons of plastic from the water. The design would clean up the large ‘Garbage Patches’ using floating booms rather than nets to cover wide areas.
By not using nets or mesh, the result will be that small debris will be diverted and extracted with virtually no by-catch of fish or other living organisms. The ocean currents would drive plastic toward the self-supportive Ocean Cleanup platforms, powered by the sun, currents, and waves.
They estimate that by selling the plastic retrieved from the gyres, they would be able to make more money than the plan costs to execute. Slat and his team are currently about 1/4th of the way through a feasibility study, which will be published online in several months’ time.
You can watch Slat’s talk for TEDxDelft 2012, where he details the plan, in the video below: