Boyan Slat: Combatting Plastic Pollution in the World’s Oceans
Millennial inventor and entrepreneur Boyan Slat describes the revolutionary system he’s developed to confront one of the biggest environmental threats of our time: over five trillion pieces of plastic filling the world’s oceans.
Slat on what got him interested in ridding the world’s oceans of plastic: “I think it was a bit of an accident really. I was fascinated by technology. I’ve been making things since I was two years old I think. So I was really looking for something useful to create to build and I found that when I was 16 years old, I was scuba diving in Greece and I looked around me and I realized I saw more plastic bags than fish and I wondered why can't we just clean this up?”
Slat on the impact of plastic pollution around the world: “There are really three areas why it's not good to have plastic in the ocean. First, the obvious one is the impact to ecosystems. So there are currently around 800 species threatened with extinction directly because of this plastic pollution. So think about entanglement, marine life getting stuck in nets or consuming the plastic, leading to the second problem, which is that chemicals that are attached to the plastic actually end up in the food chain, a food chain that includes us humans as well. So by consuming fish, actually, there are chemicals associated with that plastic end up in our bodies too, which is not a very good thing. Then thirdly, there is the economic impact. The UN estimates that plastic in the ocean is currently already costing $13 billion a year.”