Cleaning Up Garbage Island
Meet Boyan Slat, quite possibly the savior of our oceans. Do you remember hearing about a garbage island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California? It turns out there are 5 of them, one in each of the 5 gyres located around the world. The young inventor, Slat, designed a garbage collecting system, which uses the ocean’s natural currents to collect the garbage for removal. This project, Slat promises, will rid the oceans of half of the garbage within 5 years. However, some scientists believe that it is a waste of time and money.
An article written in The Verge cites two research articles that highlight one of the main arguments; it only scratches the surface. According to a study published in Science Magazine in 2015, nearly 8 million metric tons of plastic garbage found it’s way into the ocean in 2010. However, another study conducted by Plos in 2014 found that there was only 27,000 tons of plastic floating at the surface of the oceans. As The Verge points out, that’s close to 3%. The rest is presumed to be on shore, laying on the ocean floor, inside sea animals, or in small particles floating in the in-between. Meaning that according to research, the floating garbage collectors will reach only 3% of the garbage.
Another argument working against Slat is that experts believe it’s more effective to stop pollution at its source. Although it seems obvious that we need to stop the flow of pollution, Slat counters this argument by saying that we need to come at it from both ends. He believes cleaning up the oceans will inspire people to work harder to prevent future pollution of our oceans.
Despite concerns, Slat’s company, The Ocean Cleanup, has raised over $30 million to fund his effort to clean up the oceans. With plans to launch his first Ocean Cleanup project in 2018, it looks like we will know very shortly whether Slat’s invention is cleaning our oceans or its donor’s pockets.
For more information on The Ocean Cleanup project: