Boyan and his team are developing the experimental device, which would capture plastic from the oceans. With his Ocean Cleanup Project this young scientist is trying to change the world.
Viral videos show whales ensnared and sea turtles choking. Studies find some 70 percent of seabirds have ingested the waste. And a photo recently revealed that plastic has found its way to even the deepest reaches of the ocean . Straws, forks, shopping bags, nets and all manner of human detritus seems to be everywhere in what was once the endless, unspoiled sea. The world has signaled its alarm with a wave of countermeasures: Several American cities have banned plastic straws . Chile this spring joined a growing list of nations forbidding single-use plastic bags. In late May, the European Commission directed its 28 member nations to outlaw throwaway plastics , in what one official called a “global race” to slow the synthetic tide. And now, an audacious young Dutch inventor named Boyan Slat and his 70-member team have entered the final preparations for a mission to deploy an experimental device they say can capture much of the plastic that fouls the world’s oceans. A model of Slat’s unique plastics dam passed a crucial trial run in the Pacific Ocean last week and returned to its home base in San Francisco Bay. Days later, the Ocean Cleanup Project said it had won a green light from the Dutch government to conduct operations in international waters. And this week, Slat plans to unveil progress on the first prototype of his invention to reporters in Alameda, California, showing off the ungainly, 2,000-foot-long floating screen that is scheduled to be towed into the ocean before Labor Day.