20-year-old will launch world’s 1st ocean cleaning system next year

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5 trillion pieces of plastic are estimated to be in the oceans right now, and Boyan Slat, a guy not even old enough to have a beer, thinks he can help fix that.

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Slat, the founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup , announced that next year he will be deploying the world’s first system to remove plastic from the waters.

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The structure will consist of long floating barriers that snag plastic using the natural movement of the current. The current flows underneath the booms, so sea life won’t be caught, only lighter-than-water plastic, which will then be picked up by a conveyor belt.

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Not only is it the first of its kind, at 6,561 feet it will be the longest floating structure in the ocean. The plan is to deploy off the coast of Japan early next year and stay there for two years

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Slat says “Not only will this first cleanup contribute to cleaner waters and coasts but it simultaneously is an essential step towards our goal of cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.”

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Even before The Ocean Cleanup launches in 2016, The Mega Expedition will take place this August. 50 vessels will help create a high-resolution map of plastic in the Pacific Ocean, which Slat says “will collect more plastic measurements in three weeks than have been collected in the past 40 years combined.”

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The long-term goal of the expedition is to launch a 62 mile long structure within 5 years and clean up about half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch between Hawaii and California.

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I don’t know about you, but when I was 20 I wasn’t exactly worried about what was in the ocean so much as I was about sneaking into bars. At least someone’s setting a good example for future generations. Cheers to you, Boyan.