Quint & The Ocean Cleanup - CSR bottom-up
A while ago, 2 Quint employees posted a message on Quint's social network (Yammer) asking colleagues to donate to a project. Within 48 hours a vivid discussion occurred, which was extra stimulated by the announcement of Quints management that all donations made by Quint employees would be doubled. If you are interested to support this initiative, donations can be done at www.theoceancleanup.com
The story of a 19 year old student - The Ocean Cleanup
19-year-old Boyan Slat combines environmentalism, entrepreneurism and technology to tackle global issues of sustainability. While diving in Greece, he became frustrated when coming across more plastic bags than fish, and wondered: "why can't we clean this up?"
While still in secondary school, he then decided to dedicate half a year of research to understand plastic pollution and the problems associated with cleaning it up. This ultimately led to the passive cleanup concept, which he presented at a TEDx conference in 2012. To be able to show the concept he envisioned is technically feasible and financially viable, Boyan Slat paused his life as a first-year Aerospace Engineering student, to focus all his time to developing the idea.
In 2012, The Ocean Cleanup Array was awarded Best Technical Design at the Delft University of Technology. Boyan Slat has been recognised as one of the 20 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs Worldwide (Intel EYE50).
On June 3rd 2014, The Ocean Cleanup presented the 530-page feasibility study report (authored by 70 people), which indicated the concept is indeed a feasible method to clean almost half the plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in just 10 years.
The plastic pollution problem
- Millions of tons of plastic have entered the oceans
- Plastic concentrates in five rotating currents, called gyres
- In these gyres there is on average 6x more plastic than zooplankton by dry weight 1/3rd of all oceanic plastic is within the great Pacific Garbage Patch
- At least one million seabirds, and one-hundred thousand marine mammals die each year due to plastic pollution Plastic pollution is a carrier of invasive species, threatening native ecosystems
- The costs of removing debris from beaches is on average $1,500 (U.S), and up to $25,000 (U.S) per ton
- Toxic chemicals (including PCBs and DDTs) are adsorbed by the plastic, increasing the concentration a million times
- After entering the food chain, these persistent organic pollutants bioaccumulate in the food chain
Boyan Slat’s plan, expressed simply, is to deploy several V-shaped floating barriers that would be moored to the seabed and placed in the path of major ocean currents. The 30-mile-long arms of the V are designed to catch garbage and trash floating three meters below the surface while allowing sea life to pass underneath. “Because no nets would be used, a passive cleanup may well be harmless to the marine ecosystem,” he writes in the feasibly study. Over time, the trash would flow deeper into the V , from which it would then be extracted.
Why move through the oceans, if the oceans can move through you? Attaching an array of floating barriers and platforms to the sea bed enables us to concentrate the plastic before extracting it from the ocean —a collection process 100% driven by the natural winds and currents.
Capturing plastics, not sea life
Instead of nets, we make use of solid floating barriers, making entanglement of wildlife impossible. Virtually all of the current flows underneath these booms, taking away all (neutrally buoyant) organisms, and preventing by-catch, while the lighter-than-water plastic collects in front of the floating barrier.
The scalable array of moorings and booms is designed for large-magnitude deployment, covering millions of square kilometers without moving a centimeter.
Thanks to its projected high capture and field efficiency, a single gyre can be covered in just 5-10 years (or longer, depending on the chosen deployment strategy).