Today at 8:00pm CET (11:00am PST) Boyan Slat just announced the next phase of development for his organization “The Ocean Cleanup”.
“Why go after the plastic, if the plastic can come to you?” was Slat’s original rhetorical motto that summed up their initial netting system to clean the gyres of plastic waste.
For the next phase, he shared a new motto: “To catch the plastic, act like the plastic.”
Unlike the original design which involved a larger netting system that required them to anchor the nets to the ocean bed some 4 kilometers down with mixed subterranean stability (this proved to be the most challenging step as well), their new design involves more modular fleet of nets which are anchored in mid-ocean drift. They were able to test the force and flow of water at different depths and found that the netting system only needed to be drastically slowed from drift, not completely halted. For this reason, weights that would slow the netting down to a rate that plastic still could be collected would be optimal for both the efficiency of implementation as well as the gradual development of a fleet of nets based on a budgetary standpoint.
Oddly enough, this drift technology seems to work even more in our favor than we expected. Slat stated that we need to act like plastic. By this he means that the technology to clean the plastic should be akin to the behavior of the plastic itself in the ocean. He also explains how after the fleet of nets is set up, the netting system should be able to not only gather the plastic but also over time the drifting nets themselves will be gradually gathered together by the current.
For more information visit their website The Ocean Cleanup!