Environmentalists have been collectively freaking out for a while now about how filled with plastic the oceans are. But 2016 could be the year we finally figure out how to effectively begin cleaning it all up.
The Ocean Cleanup project, a not-for-profit organization founded by super-smart 20-year-old Boyan Slat earlier in 2015, plans to begin the first-ever at-sea testing of a revolutionary floating dam that uses ocean currents to remove plastic waste from the ocean for recycling. Ocean Cleanup has had success testing the dam in lakes, but 2016 will be the first time it's put to use in the open ocean.
According to a report from AFP, the 62-mile long barrier segment will be deployed off the coast of the Netherlands sometime in the spring.
The report also explains that Ocean Cleanup's garbage barrier is different than other ocean waste collection programs because while most "use boats to scour the surf for the plastic flotsam and jetsam in which dolphins, seals and other sea creatures become entangled," Ocean Cleanup's barrier "uses currents to passively ensnare waves of garbage -- while allowing fish and other sea creatures through."
Taking advantage of the ocean's natural currents to aid in cleanup is a simple, but brilliant innovation. As Ocean Cleanup says on their website, "Why move through the oceans, if the oceans can move through you?"
According to AFP, the organization hopes to install a 62-mile-long V-shaped floating barrier surrounding the Great Pacific Garbage Patch -- a massive floating island of plastic in the North Pacific that wreaks havoc on marine animals -- to begin dismantling the patch by the year 2020.