Born July 27, 1994 in Delft, Boyan Slat is an environmental activist Dutch of Croatian origin. At 16, the appalling sight of the seabed will change the course of his life. At the end of a scuba diving in Greece, he becomes aware of the ecological disaster that is playing out at the bottom of the seas and oceans. Plastic has invaded the seabed and he doesn't understand why men don't clean it up! He then decides to devote himself entirely to their cleaning. At 18, his ambition is to clean 90% of the oceans by 2050.
Boyan Slat takes the defense of the oceans to heart and displays an impressive CV: inventor, entrepreneur, fundraiser, advocate for his cause, outstanding communicator, team leader ... To all this, we should add his many awards, including that of the Champion of the Earth awarded by the UN in the name of "his determination and his lack of fear which are the hallmarks of visionaries". It was in 2014, he was 20 years old and was the youngest winner.
His project: to develop and set up a system of immense floating barriers that are sufficiently deep and sufficiently wide, which move thanks to the currents and which retain plastic debris.
Different studies have shown him that the ribs effectively retain plastic, thanks to the current. However, in the depths of the oceans where a large part of the plastic is found, the lack of movement does not allow it to be intercepted, while on the surface the current is stronger.
Based on the observation of this natural phenomenon, he imagined artificial ribs by manufacturing a floating cleaning system that forms a horseshoe and attached to an anchor acting as a barrier that concentrates the plastic in order to be recovered. It is throwing a giant anchor in the depths of the oceans. This system slows down the current just enough that the fast moving plastic meets the cleaning system and gets stuck.
After presenting his project at conferences and raising funds, he created his non-profit company "The Ocean Cleanup", recruited dozens of people, met engineers and got started. In front of the press around the world, in 2018 he presented his “System 001” in the San Francisco Bay area. A few months later the barrier no longer plays its role.
After a few unsuccessful attempts, this stubborn and persevering young man developed the “System 002”, a more resistant model, reproducible on a large scale. Ongoing tests encourage it to launch its first large-scale fully operational cleanup operation in the North Pacific waste vortex in Q2 2021. Area in which the sheet of plastic waste between Hawaii and California now covers more than three times the surface of France.
Boyan Slat arouses both criticism and admiration. These detractors accuse him that his invention tackles the problem of plastic without drying up the source, when it would have to drastically reduce its production and better recycle it.
Rational, observant and perceptive, he analyzes criticisms with relevance and transforms them into ideas to be developed. To reassure these investors, the NGO is engaging in parallel projects just as ambitious as the first. The Ocean Cleanup highlights that today 1,000 rivers are responsible for 80% of plastic pollution in the oceans .We must take the evil at its source! the NGO invents a barge called the “ Interceptor” capable of recovering 50 tons / day of plastic waste.
This barge operates on solar energy. To attract the waste into its hold, a barrier is deployed over tens of meters and filters the river water. They are sorted without human intervention and are transported to skips which can store 50 M3 of waste of all kinds. When it is full, an SMS is sent to local recyclers.
The first 2 were deployed at the end of 2019 in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Most of the marine pollution comes from Asia and Africa. According to Boyan Slat, placing Interceptor barges at the entrance to estuaries would be a very effective solution to protect our oceans.
In order to support its development, Boyan Slat is also embarking on the recycling of collected products. He has been producing glasses since the end of 2019, sold for € 199 per pair for the benefit of his organization.
This genius thinks that progress, new technologies and entrepreneurship are our only hope for a better future for our planet. These tools that we make are there to help us and increase our capabilities tenfold. Innovation allows for changes of scale and opens the door to larger projects that can be carried out more quickly. According to him, making the problem and the solutions more visible generates a positive effect on the behavior of the populations who are confronted with it. Highlighting the positive results of each positive action for our environment makes people want to react in the same direction. An action leads to a reaction.
Of course, the financial side should not be underestimated in order to advance progress and ambitious projects. The first 2 million dollars were raised via a crowdfunding platform. For several years now, companies and individuals from Europe and the Sillicon Valley have supported Boyan Slat's projects. Many people believe in it and despite the fact that it could be a risky investment, the urge to take part in cleaning up the oceans is far more important.
The NGO is always looking for brilliant people to join its teams, and continues to encourage individuals and businesses to financially support its projects. The pollution of the oceans concerns all of humanity.