Home / This massive ocean cleaning system from a 21-year-old inventor will launch next year. The Ocean Cleanup, developing technologies to extract, prevent and intercept plastic pollution  
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Image of This massive ocean cleaning system from a 21-year-old inventor will launch next year. The Ocean Cleanup, developing technologies to extract, prevent and intercept plastic pollution

Back in 2011, then 16-year-old Boyan Slat, together with a friend started studying oceanic plastic pollution, and the problems associated with cleaning it up, whilst doing a high school science project. When Boyan started his first year of university, he still could not stop thinking about the problem and continued working on his passive clean-up concept. This eventually resulted in the founding of The Ocean Cleanup. From the feasibility study executive summary:

Every year we produce about 300 million tons of plastic, a portion of which enters and accumulates in the oceans. Due to large offshore currents, plastic concentrates in vast areas called gyres, of which the Great Pacific Garbage Patch between Hawaii and California is the best-known example.

The damage to sea life is staggering: at least one million seabirds, and hundreds of thousands of marine mammals die each year due to the pollution. Even worse, the survival of many species, like the Hawaiian Monk Seal and Loggerhead Turtle, is directly jeopardized by plastic debris.

Marine species often become entangled in larger debris, leading to “injury, illness, suffocation, starvation, and even death” (NOAA, 2014). Smaller fragments can be mistaken for food and eaten, causing malnutrition, intestinal blockage and death. When marine animals eat plastic, harmful chemicals move up the food chain. Ingestion of and entanglement in marine debris by marine animals has increased by 40 percent in the last decade. Furthermore, plastics can transport invasive species and toxic substances over great distances.


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All well and good; however, it's probable that radiation leaked from Fukushima is a more critical issue. With so much ocean cleanup required and the ocean being as large as, well, an ocean, it's overwhelming to determine the best place for investment. Hats off to this guy though - very inspiring story.

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Someone went a bit crazy on the Javascript on that site.

As far as determining where to invest, those are individual choices. When it comes to pollution and environmental cleanup, there are many places to attack the problem and each person will have their own passions for addressing certain areas. IMO, the biggest single contributing factor to pollution is that there aren't private property rights in the ocean. AFAIK, it's all "owned" and "protected" by governments. No wonder it's such a polluted dumping ground.

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