Last month, the young environmentalist Boyan Slat announced that his non-profit, The Ocean Cleanup, will deploy their 2000-meter boom system to collect plastic waste in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 2016.
This large system will be the first system of its size to be deployed in the ocean for plastic removal. The organization plans to deploy it off the coast of Japan’s Tsushima Island, where booms will passively collect plastic from waves and the wind pushing trash towards it. The deployment will test out the durability of the barriers, determine how the project holds up in real-life ocean and wind conditions and provide more data on collection and recycling.
Because of its passive nature, the operation costs of the system are estimated to be equal to almost 3% of conventional ocean cleanup costs, without taking account the amount of money that can offset the deployment costs from plastic recycling. Due to the work of engineers and scientists, the system is very weather-proof, and can trap as much as 80% of the plastic that comes in contact with the booms. Overall, the system is environmentally friendly, as it does not use nets that could trap fish or other ocean life.
When it comes to recycling bins and environment, this project can be thought of as the biggest recycling bin removing waste from the ocean. After multiple tests, the project found that the plastic recovered from the ocean could easily be turned into oil, with great promise for more plastic to be recycled by mechanical sorting. Slat estimates that the project, if deployed over 10 years, can remove as much as 50% of plastic pollution in the ocean. Though an ambitious project not without its critics, this system can revolutionize ocean clean up and plastic recycling over time.