19-year-old Dutch engineering student Boyan Slat has proposed the use of floating booms to gather garbage from the ocean.
The device consists of an anchored network of floating booms and processing platforms that could be dispatched to garbage patches around the world. Instead of moving through the ocean, the array would span the radius of a garbage patch, acting as a giant funnel.
His team’s crowdfunding campaign has raised over $80,000 to fund a feasibility study.
Update: Stiv Wilson, policy director of ocean conservation nonprofit 5Gyres.org, has responded with an extensive critique of Slat’s plan and suggests readers support existing efforts to reduce the flow of plastics into the ocean.
Stiv suggests reading Flotsametrics to get the real scoop on flotsam (floating trash). The book chronicles the adventures of Curtis Ebbesmeyer as his interest in wayward trash inadvertently revolutionizes the study of the world’s oceans.