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Ocean-cleaning device unveiled

Barbados Nation

Ocean-cleaning device unveiled

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The Dutch inventor behind a groundbreaking project to remove millions of tonnes of plastics floating in vast ocean “garbage patches” has unveiled the first prototype of his ambitious sea-cleaning device.

Boyan Slat’s innovative idea – first drawn on a paper napkin when he was still in high school – seeks to use ocean currents to gather up the masses of bottles, plastic bags, flip-flops and other detritus that sully the planet’s waters, eliminating the need for an army of boats to haul them in.

According to the Ocean Cleanup project, eight million tonnes of plastics enter the oceans every year, much of which has accumulated in five giant garbage patches, with the largest in the Pacific between California and Hawaii.

The plastic soup is created when the rubbish gets caught up in five main “gyres” – or rotating oceanic currents. But 21-year-old Slat believes he can harness the power of the currents to help the great clean-up.

“Why move through the ocean if the ocean can move through you?” Slat asked at a press conference in the harbour in the port of Scheveningen, on the outskirts of The Hague.

Slat’s idea is to use a 100 kilometre long V-shaped barrier made up of large, rubber pillow-shaped buoys which float on the ocean surface, trailing a three-metre (nine-foot) long curtain from its arms into the water.

A smaller 100-metre prototype was for a year-long series of tests some 23 kilometres (12 nautical miles) off the Dutch coast. The aim is to stop the plastic as it bobs along, gathering it into one place so it can be gathered up into a container and taken for recycling. (