Last week, we were asked to present a speech about an environmental leader. The person I was stuck with was none other than the founder of The Ocean cleanup non-profit and non-govermental organization, Boyan Slat. This non-profit organization attracted me closer and closer to their goals and leading me to do more research on The Ocean Cleanup.
The Ocean Cleanup non-profit organization was originally founded in 2013 in the city of Delt, in the Netherlands by Boyan Slat with the goal of preserving and cleaning up our oceans. Currently, the current within our oceans lakes and rivers lead all the pollution we dispose of into 5 main garbage hot zones called « garbage patches« . There are currently 5 main garbage patches within our oceans, 2 located in the Pacific Ocean, 2 located in the Atlantic Ocean and 1 in the Indian ocean. Their goal is to one day eventually cleaning up the ocean in a green and sustainable way.
The Ocean Cleanup aims to cleanup 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch every 5 years as well as stopping 80% of plastic from entering the oceans in five years which stem from 1000 rivers across the world, but how do they plan on accomplishing this?
In order to achieve their plan to clean up the ocean or currently the Great Pacific Garbage patch, they plan on using the ocean to clean the ocean. Currents throughout the great bodies of water of water lead the garbage to these patches, so they are using these currents to bring them these patches. By setting up bug nets at the surface level of the ocean, they manage to capture the pieces of plastic drifting in through the currents. When the area within the net files up, sensors attached onto the net alert a boat to come and pick up the trash. The trash is later brought back to shore where it is recycled and repurposed by the ocean cleanup.
In order to clean up the rivers, The Ocean cleanup created a new line of automated solar powered vessels which leads pollution to it via a barrier installed on the edges of the river. The current of the river directs pollution down the stream and eventually leading it into a conveyer belt, which continuously extracts the debris from the water and delivers the waste to the shuttle on board. The shuttle distributes the debris across 6 dumpsters on the vessel. When the vessel is full, it automatically informs the local operators to empty it out. This vessel, called the <The Interceptor> is capable of containing 50m3 of debris before needing to be emptied. The Interceptor is currently being used in the most polluted rivers in the world such as the Rio Ozama, the Klang river and the Cengkareng drain.
With all the plastic obtained from the cleanup, The Ocean cleanup is able to produce products for sale to which all profits go back into the cleaning up of the ocean. These plastics and debris first get recycled and with whatever usable material remaining, Sunglasses are made. Each pair equivalent to 24 football fields of debris and plastics.
To summarize, The Ocean cleanup is a non-governmental organization that has already done a lot for our planet, our ecosystems as well as our health despite not having been around for a long time. They are currently cleaning up our oceans and rivers while doing it in style. With all the great work, The Ocean Cleanup had amassed a lot of support from various companies and governments such as Microsoft, Delloitte and many more. These actions from The Ocean Cleanup show that what was once considered impossible, is now a reality and is currently in full effect.
The Ocean Cleanup. Oceans, The Ocean Cleanup, 2020, https://theoceancleanup.com/.