Boyan Slat, studied aerospace engineer, has found his destiny not in the sky but in the depths of the oceans - or at least in the masses of plastic waste mankind deposits there. With "The Ocean Cleanup"-project founded in 2013, Slat and his fellows try to solve the enormous task of getting the oceans at least a little bit cleaner. After some foils in the past, the modification of some processes now lead to a success as Boyan Slat stated on Twitter recently.

Without thinking of all aspects of the actual climate debate (including „Greta“), it is more than clear that we need to step on the brake and do something to prevent the future of a dead world left behind to our children. As for me, this awareness has grown over the years (and by age of course) and by being a father so I think everyone who contributes something to the „Great Whole“ is more than just a passive character. I still eat meat (and love to do so - so I am still doomed!) but as a lover of the sea, there are some aspects that just makes me think in which direction this world is steering to.

This holiday, we visited Bredene, Belgium, once again for two weeks - a wonderful small city by the coast of the North Sea and always the starting point for my vacations to England. Another mentality freeing your German mind, the beach, the sea, fresh air and everything I connect with personal freedom and letting loose from everyday life. While we walked to the beach, we stumbled upon a piece of contemporary art that should raise ecological awareness. In fact, it was a container dominated by plastic waste re-"stolen" from the ocean covering all sides of it and even the ceiling. It was quite hard to believe, but that is what mankind does to the environment, summarized in one single sculpture and supported by many explanations how this generally happens.

Plastic Nightmare in Bredene, Belgium (2019)

To close the gap to "The Ocean Cleanup" is - finally quite easy: While the last test wasn't that successful as garbage caught got lost into the ocean once again, the company optimized some aspects and on October 2nd, System 001/B - the actual prototype - was working as expected, collecting garbage and debris in the ways it was planned to do. While focusing on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the largest accumulation zone of plastic in the world's oceans, the non-profit-organization finally used its prototype paired with natural forces to gather even more things than expected.

Originally launched from Vancouver in June, System 001/B is The Ocean Cleanup’s second attempt to prove its concept of collecting garbage from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the largest accumulation zone of plastic in the world’s oceans. In addition to collecting plainly visible pieces of plastic debris as well as much larger ghost nets associated with commercial fishing, the latest system has also successfully captured microplastics as small as 1mm – a feat the team was pleasantly surprised to achieve.

Gathering some debris and even a tire

Alas, despite the early access of System 001/B there is still some work to do and so the development of System 002 is already in design. This one is told to be a full-scale cleanup system being able to to both endure and retain the collected plastic for a long period of time. The main fix in the design of System 001/B was basically the correction of the inconsistent speed difference between the system and the collected plastics - a parachute anchor finally helped that the debris stayed where it was about to stay instead of floating back to the sea.

According to my opinion, this is a small step for a man but a giant leap for mankind. It does not solve the basic problem why we still drop trash into the oceans, hoping to get rid of the basic problem that we produce more and more (plastic) waste. But it is a great proof that we still can develop the technology to clean up the oceans - at least a little bit. I like the idea behind it and hope that there will be investors who contribute to this project because of caring reasons - not just for the profit it may bring.

Microplastics found in the Ocean

The Ocean Project is a great idea that shows that we may still do something good for this world, not mentioning the fact that we are still caught in a horrible kind of downward spiral...