How the oceans can clean themselves: Boyan Slat at TEDxDelft

How the oceans can clean themselves: Boyan Slat at TEDxDelft


Translator: Ondrej Moravcik
Reviewer: Tatjana Jevdjic Once there was a Stone Age,
a Bronze Age and now we are in the middle
of the Plastic Age. Because every year we produce
about 300,000,000 tons of plastic and fraction of that enters rivers,
water ways and eventually the oceans. If you want to eat a biscuit nowadays we have to buy a biscuit
within a plastic wrapper, within a plastic tray,
within a cardboard box, within a plastic foil,
within a plastic bag. It’s not hazardous nuclear waste —
it’s a biscuit. And this is me. I love diving just taking you through
my holiday slides here. This is at the pristine Azores Islands
and this is how their beaches look. Covered with plastic fragments. Due to sun and waves over the years the garbage breaks down
into ever smaller pieces, but remains plastic. And, well interestingly, you don’t see
a lot of red particles in here because those look like food to birds more than any other color. So this is the result. And well, the debris primarily collects
at these 5 rotating currents called the gyres, where it doesn’t only
directly kills sea life, but due to the absorption of PCBs and DDTs,
also poisons the food chain. A food chain that includes us — humans. And while diving in Greece I came across more plastic bags than fish and astounded by the depressing sights my Scottish dive buddy turned to me and said, “A lot of jellyfish is here, dear.
Seen about a thousand.” There were no jellyfish. I won’t talk about
environmental issues in general. I think the common response is,
well that’s a long way off. That’s for our children to worry about. So hello, here I am. Why don’t we just clean it up? There are a multiple reasons why current plastic pollution researchers
believe we should focus on prevention, for example through education,
rather than attempting a cleanup operation. Because we would need to deal
with 5 colossal areas — each moving around. Plastic sizes ranging from these massive ghost nets
to molecules — bycatches and emissions. Furthermore we would need to get
all the plastic back to land. It would need to be financially realistic and in fact the total amount of plastic
within the gyres [is] unknown. But about a year ago, when I was
on my way to the hairdresser’s and I must admit I don’t go there often
but I had this little epiphany. I saw even old people throwing
rubbish in the water and I thought, well some people
will just never learn, will they? We’ll need the combination of both roads and we’ll need them soon. So then I simply used this list of concerns as challenges, and in fact a week later
as a school assignment, I had a chance to spend a lot of time on a subject of choice together
with a friend of mine. And this gave me the perfect opportunity to do new and fundamental research
regarding plastic pollution. I then went on a holiday to Greece
taking this manta trawl with me, which is the common device
for sampling plastic, and so I had to leave home all my clothes due to low cost airlines weight limit policies. Well, the trawl we built, however,
is 15 times finer than the regular one.
And what we discovered was that the count of those minute particles
is in fact 40 times higher than the larger particles.
So we have to take these small plastics out, but then we wouldn’t want to take
the important plankton out as well. Luckily these could simply be separated
using centrifugal forces. However, nobody knew how much G forces
common zoo-plankton could survive. So we took the trawl out again,
and we didn’t have a boat, so and we tested it, and in fact they can survive
over 50 Gs, which is more than enough for successful separation. And then in order to know up to which depth
the ocean surface should be cleaned, we designed and built something
that I call the multilevel trawl. We basically stuck ten trawls
on top of each other. Here you can see us testing that
on the North Sea, I thought it was a great day —
I was the only one who didn’t get sick but then the so perfectly working trawl
broke and of course we didn’t quit there,
because I believe you can’t clean up something you don’t know the size of. I’ve heard the estimations ranging
from several hundred thousand tons all the way to a hundred million tons. I knew we really need a better estimate
— some scientific data. So then I simply contacted
some professors from the universities Delft, Utrecht and Hawaii —
who then actually helped us in determining how much plastic there is
in the top layers of the gyres. The result — a whopping 7.25 million tons
of extractable plastic in 2020. That’s the weight of 1,000 Eiffel towers
floating in the gyres. Now, researcher and effect discoverer
of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Charles Moore estimates it would take
79,000 years to remediate that. However, I believe the Great Pacific
Garbage Patch can completely clean itself in just 5 years. And that is a difference of 78,995 years. Well, of course, this is the conventional idea
of extracting litter, so you have a vessel and a net
fishing for plastic. Of course multiple vessels could be used
to cover a larger area, but by spanning booms between
those vessels, suddenly a much larger area
would be covered, because the essence is not to
catch the debris, but divert it. Because there is no mesh size,
we can even get out the smallest particles, and since all organisms can simply move
under the booms, we’ll be able to eliminate
bycatches by 99.98%. But, if we want to do something different shouldn’t we also have to think differently. For example then: the absorption of PCBs
by plastic is not such a bad thing, it’s a good thing. Get all the plastic out and simultaneously
remove tons and tons of persistent organic pollutants
from the marine environment. But how would we minimize environmental,
financial and transportation cost then? Let’s use our enemy
to our advantage, OK? The oceanic currents moving around
is not an obstacle — it’s a solution. Why move through the oceans
if the oceans can move through you? By fixing the “ships” to the seabed
and letting the rotating currents do their work — vast amounts of funds,
manpower and emissions will be saved. The platforms will, of course, be
completely self-supportive receiving their energy from sun,
currents and waves. And inspired by my diving at the Azores,
It now actually seems that the best shape for these platforms
is that of a Manta Ray, by letting its wings sway
like a real manta, we can assure contact of the inlet
with the surface even in the roughest weather. Well, imagine a zigzag array of just 24
of these platforms cleaning an entire ocean. Let’s make a comparison, OK? These are the beaches of Hong Kong,
earlier this year. The largest plastic spill in history.
And this is their source, just 6 containers. How much could we get out? Over 55 of these containers per day. Not only is plastic directly responsible
for over a billion USD in vessel damages a year, no, the awesome surprise for me was that if we sell the plastics retrieved from the 5 gyres
we’d make over $500,000,000 and this is in fact more than
the plan would cost to execute. In other words — it’s profitable. But I believe that the key thing is that only if we realize change is more important
than money, money will come. And yes, it will be one of the largest environmental
rescue operations yet, but we created this mess. Heck, we even invented this new material first
before we made this mess, so please don’t tell me
we can’t clean this up together. Thank you very much. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “How the oceans can clean themselves: Boyan Slat at TEDxDelft

  1. See Millennial idealism cannot and should not be wasted. Once they get out of their parents' basement, they can actually accomplish great things like Boyan. Can he execute? He must be surrounded by Silicon valley trolls by now–telling to do things lean, lean this, lean that, lean, lean…

  2. evidence that can prove that we should prevent plastic pollution instead of cleaning the GPGP
    1 The huge size of the GPGP is going to afect how long it is to clean it.
    2 If we prevent it our enviorment is going to be different that mean to not use more plastic
    3 By tring to clean it the animals that are in there would die.

  3. Its been 6 years since everyone laughed and said this could not be done… Just google this kid now; his plan is happening and is working.

  4. Your parents and teachers must be so proud of you.. I am a Teacher and I feel so proud that young people like yourself can be so passionate about solving this problem. I wish I would get that honor of inspiring my students to care and advocate for earth's present and future. We are supporting you however we can…

  5. I get my biscuits from the oven, or at a restaurant. The idea of biscuits in a box is revolting. How do you keep it moist and fluffy?

  6. And now it is about to be a reality!! So many people have been cheering you on and we are so proud of you!

  7. A brilliant concept by Boyan Slat. It is well worth funding. All western governments should put money into the project instead spending money to bomb Syria and other countries.

  8. Why do I never hear / see any one say lets replace plastic bags with Cannabis Hemp bags the organic biodegradable clean alternative? We can't clean up this big global filth until we get rid of the globalists from power who control & corrupt the governments who premeditadely only ever use the worst possible toxic , deadly  resources. Our greatest threat to existence GeoEngineering  toxic Aerosol spraying of 100 million tons a year destroying the O Zone Layer now only 20% of it is left to the countdown of it's/our demise 2025 will result in global crop failure. So many elephants in the room that most fail to put the bigger picture together.

  9. There are solutions (like this one) to all human problems. One such solution is stopping the cause. Another is eliminating the laws, rules, and regulations that prevent us from doing the solutions. Yet another is purging or otherwise holding responsible the unfeeling characters in government and Big Corporate that facilitate these problems. Ultimately, it all starts right at home with "us".

  10. Boylan Slat is the perfect example of hope for the planet and his generation. Bravo young man, so proud to know your generation is stepping up to challenge conventional thinking.

  11. I truly admire Boyan's work and I absolutely can relate to his vision. I feel the need and I wanna say thank you!!! And also, I have a question, what people do with the plastic they draw out of the ocean? How you know that this plastic won't get in the ocean again?

  12. Great journey from this time to know? The ocean clean up ready to launch full scale.
    So looking forward in one year time to see the progress, the errors, the improvement… and things keep moving forward 🙂

  13. what about shipping boats in n out shipping coming n going how do they clear the booms. ??? cannot go over them the propellers would get caught in the booms. ??? the young guys was obviously very nervous.. but did great job.. good for him.. but like someone to explain about effects to shipping lanes ???

  14. OH MY FREAKING GOD, WHY AM I JUST HEARING ABOUT THIS? IT’S FREAKING GENIUS! I’m so excited about this project! We need to be more proactive!

  15. Excited to hear that only 6 years later, the system has been deployed. Praying the collection of plastic goes well. I thought this. Boyan did it!
    .

  16. I think this is good example of populism🤔 its not that simple guys… and there is another tedtalk where the guy says that every minute a truck load of plastic gets thrown in to oceans. sooooo even this in the place the ammount of ocean plastic would still grow🤔

  17. Am curious – how the manta design finally evolved to the final version launched this month… Amazing dedication though from 2012 (or even earlier) to 2018

  18. Some 4 years ago, I have watched this video. And today, I have just read, that the government actually did it and in a year – there will be 60 devices in Pacific. So happy about it!!

  19. The best solution is to stop breeding so much. Less people = less problems.
    Not having kids at all is good for the planet but you will be more lonely and there's nobody to continue your heritage. One child is okay as long as he doesn't die before you, because if he dies – you don't have another one. Having two children is the ideal number. This way two children are replacing two parents and the population won't grow. The population will slowly be reduced because some of them will die before having their own children.
    But 3 or more children is a problem for you and the planet. The population will grow because 3 children are replacing 2 parents and the majority of them won't die so soon.
    Also, kids cost money.

  20. Great job, awesome thoughts! Boyan Slat, have your plans about those platforms became a reality or remained just in beautiful fantasies?

  21. "only if we realize that change is more important than money, money will come" this is true in every business, money chases value and not the other way around.

  22. He is inspiring! We live in a world today, where the smart money doesn't care about environmental issues, unless we give them a reason. and that's an economic reason; money talks

  23. By far, this is the most important TED talk of our generation… Global warming is only a symptom.. our reliant for plastics & our extreme consumerism is the primary cause of irresponsible & excessive manufacturing of plastics.. just google how plastics are made.

  24. What an amazing young man! He’s an environmental genius. 🐳🌨💦💧🌏🐬🐟🐋💧💦🦈🐠🌏🐳💧💦🌍🐳💧💦🌎💧💦🌊🌨

  25. Inhuman idiots still dont know that with money we cant buy or purchase pure Air, Water and Soil. Humanity is the only means to save and sustain our Mother Planet Earth.

  26. What am I missing?  These stationary platforms somehow scoop the plastics from a giant rotating mass.  Then what?  How are they transported back to land to be sold for the profitability he spoke of?  BTW dumping millions of tons of any  resource into the existing economies will not come without a price.  You might sell your ocean plastic for 500 million but what happens to the current industry that produces plastic for manufacturing?   How do you intend to anchor these things considering the massive depths at some locations in the ocean?  Lots of trumpeting about the problem with lots of vague pie in the sky solutions.

  27. Poor guy needs some water. That cottonmouth has got him by the balls. Having said that, I think this is fascinating and I think he’s going to make a life changing invention.

  28. 2 problems: once you get the plastic to make contact with, and accumulate in, these super wide nets, how do you haul it in? Also, how do you prevent sea life from getting caught up in these giant nets? We're talking everything from minnows to whales here.

  29. So this video was uploaded more than 6 years ago. Has any of this happened, or even been started as a pilot project? Haven't heard anything about it. Boyan is now at least in his mid-20s. What's he doing now? He said this could be done in 5 years. Did he not get enough funding, or what?

  30. Brilliant kid. But what a boring audience – hardly reacting to what he’s saying. Don’t they get what he’s trying to tell them?

  31. and when you sell that plastic how do you know that the person that bought it wont use it and throw it out in to the ocean again ? and if this goes around than its not cleaning and if he doesn't throw it in the ocean he can throw it in other waters and u cant clean those. so instead of focusing on selling the plastic and becoming rich how about you focus on saving the world .

  32. why isn't the world hyping Boyan Slat instead of this sixteen year old girl who refuses to go to school until someone solves the climate change problem rather than going to school and learn how to solve the problem by herself.

  33. Boyan is probably a nice kid, but his hair brain idea will be as effective as sweeping the Sahara during a dust storm, it ain't going to work!! Better idea, keep the f**** plastic out of the oceans in the first place

  34. Seats of theatres ,stadium and schools* (*developing countries) and benches in parks should be made from recycled plastics from that region leading to waste management at root level.

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