A young Dutch inventor is widening his effort to clean up floating plastic from the Pacific Ocean. He has developed a floating device to trap plastic waste moving into rivers before it reaches the high seas.
Boyan Slat was just 18 years old when he invented a system for catching waste in the ocean. He also founded an environmental group called The Ocean Cleanup. Its purpose is to develop and deploy the system.
Last Saturday, the 25-year-old Slat announced the next step in his fight: a floating device that he calls the “Interceptor.” It removes plastic out of rivers. The device is powered by energy from the sun.
“We need to close the tap, which means preventing more plastic from reaching the ocean in the first place,” Slat said. He added that rivers are “the arteries that carry the trash from land to sea.”
The Ocean Cleanup has been criticized in the past for directing its attention only on plastic waste already in the world’s oceans. Experts say 8 million metric tons of waste flow into the ocean each year from rivers, creeks and seaside areas. The plastic endangers fish and other sea creatures.
Three of the machines have already been deployed to Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. Slat said a fourth is going to the Dominican Republic.
Izham Hashim, a Malaysian government official, was present at the Interceptor’s launch in his country.
Hashim told The Associated Press (AP) that he was happy with the machine. “It has been used for 1 1/2 months in the river and it’s doing very well, collecting the plastic bottles and all the rubbish,” he said.
Slat said he believes 1,000 rivers are responsible for about 80% of plastic going into the world’s oceans. He said he wants to try to clean them all in the next five years.
He added, “This is not going to be easy, but imagine if we do get this done. We could truly make our oceans clean again.”
Slat used his announcement to ask for support from countries interested in cleaning up their rivers. He also wants support from businesses prepared to offer financial support and help with the operation of the devices.