In September 2018, massive cleansing of the oceans began when non-profit organization The Ocean Cleanup, founded by Dutch Boyan Slat, launched their floating system for capturing plastic pollution from oceans. The vessel’s first destination was the largest collection of floating trash, The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Its area is three times larger than France. After the initial failure with the broken net, the system began to function properly and after one year, the first bags of collected garbage reached the land. Boyan Slat’s vision is to remove 90% of floating plastics from the oceans by 2040. But what can we do with the collected plastic garbage? Slat decided to upcycle, which means turning garbage into new materials or new and better products (for example sunglasses made of collected plastic garbage).
One year ago, The Ocean Cleanup also focused on cleaning rivers. They found that 80% of ocean plastics comes from 1000 rivers (mainly from Asia). It is not just about removing plastics from oceans, but also about stopping the arrival of new garbage to oceans. Boyan Slat’s goal is to clean up the most polluted rivers within 5 years. Special vessels, called The Interceptors should be used for this purpose. The Interceptor consists of two parts. The first is a vessel similar to a catamaran with giant containers and the second one is a several meters long floating barrier that directs garbage to the conveyor belt of the catamaran. Interceptors are powered by batteries, that are recharged by solar panels located on their roofs. Thanks to these batteries, the work is quiet and environmentally friendly. The system is fully automatic and its sensors indicate that the containers are full and need to be emptied manually. It is stated that the Interceptor can collect up to 100 000 kilograms of garbage per day.
Currently there are 3 Interceptors in operation, in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Dominican Republic. In the near future, new vessel should also appear on the Mekong River in Vietnam. To meet all goals, the Ocean Cleanup has now teamed up with the Finnish company Konecranes, which will produce new types of Interceptors, with a number of improvements such as wider conveyor belts, bigger inner containers or smarter system of energy storage.
We will certainly hear more about this project, which was underestimated at first. Ocean pollution is a really big problem that needs to be solved as soon as possible. Without the necessary intervention, an environmental disaster can soon occur. However, I believe that The Ocean Cleansup’s mission will be successful. However, without the help of all of us, it will not work.