April 18, 2018

Boyan Slat, who at 18 founded The Ocean Cleanup, has one mission: to rid the world's oceans of plastic. Since 2013 his nonprofit has been developing new technologies to help him achieve this incredible goal. Let's take an investigative look at just exactly what the smart folks of The Ocean Cleanup are up to.

Exactly how much plastic is floating around in our oceans?

The Great Pacific Garbage patch alone contains 80 million kilograms of plastic! Becuase of the vastness of the world's oceans, it's very difficult to come up with a simple answer of just how much plastic. Unfortunately, there are many of these "patches" dispersed throughout the entire ocean.  

Are plastics concentrated at the surface, or are they located deeper down?

Due to the natural buoyancy of plastic, most of the plastic within the ocean is located at the surface. The Ocean Cleanup found that almost no plastic is found 5 meters below the surface of the water. 

What types of plastics are usually found in these "patches"?

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a large proportion of ocean plastics is single-use bottles for water, soda, laundry detergent and more. Plastic bags, drinking straws, plumbing pipes, toothbrushes and carry-out containers can also be found. 

sea turtle the ocean cleanup

Sea turtles and other sea life are can be unfortunate casualties of plastic pollution as they often accidentally mistake it for food. 

How does The Ocean Cleanup plan to remove all these plastics?

The Ocean Cleanup plans to take advantage of the natural gyre like the motion of these "patches" to funnel plastics towards a giant catch net. Once these plastics are completely bound by this catch-net, they can be then placed on a boat and hauled away for recycling. 

What will happen to these plastics once they are on shore?

The plan according to the non-profit is to give new life to this once-polluted waste. The Ocean Project is heavily investing time and money into building new and innovative processes for converting old plastics into new ones. Their goal is to be able to make consumer products, like sunglasses, out of old sun damaged plastics that were once floating in the sea. 

To donate or learn more about the incredible work happening at The Ocean Cleanup, visit their website here.

To curb your consumption of single-use plastic bottles, consider buying a filter pitcher and pairing it with a reusable bottle!