There are dreamers and there are doers. Boyan Slat of the Netherlands is both. 5 years ago at the age of 18, he founded The Ocean Cleanup, an organization dedicated to removing plastic debris from the oceans of the world. To date, it has raised $20 million in funding, which has been used to create 5 prototypes and more than 270 models of systems it hopes will begin cleaning up plastic waste in the world’s oceans.

The latest version is named Wilson, in honor of the volleyball that became part of the adventure in the Tom Hanks movie Castaway. Wilson is composed of 60 floating booms joined together in a U shape. Each boom has a 10-foot deep skirt attached to it that will collect plastic pieces larger than 1 centimeter in size, according to a report in The Guardian.

Wilson has been launched in San Francisco Bay and will be towed 250 miles out to sea where it will be tested for two weeks before beginning its mission. The entire system will be powered by the same currents that converge to create the Pacific Gyre, otherwise known as The Great Pacific Garbage Patch — an area three times the size of France. Wilson will be equipped with location broadcasting technology to keep ships from running into it.

A team from The Ocean Cleanup will remove the trash collected every 6 weeks and transport it back to The Netherlands for recycling. The team hopes its system will remove 50% of the floating plastic in the Pacific Gyre within 5 years. It predicts it could clean up 90% of ocean plastic debris by 2040.

A recent study estimates there are 1.8 trillion pieces of floating plastic in the Pacific Gyre weighing a total of 80,000 tons. Oceanographer Laurent Lebreton tells The Guardian, “Moving with wind and currents in the same way plastic does, the barrier should self-adjust once deployed. It will trap large debris before it can break down into harmful microplastics. Some 92% of plastic in the region is made up of pieces larger than 5 millimeters, so that is our focus.”

Source: September 10, 2018,