When Boyan Slat’s plan to rid the world’s oceans of plastic hit the news, it was received with much fanfare. People called Slat a visionary. They called his idea one that would change the world. And those things might be true, but according to recent reports, his plan ain’t going so well—at least the early stages of it.
At the end of October, after years of extraordinarily successful fundraising and extensive testing, Slat’s Ocean Cleanup project weighed anchor on their full-sized test model. Now, just over a month later, they’re running into a problem: the enormous boom isn’t holding onto the plastic it’s supposed to collect.
Slat’s plan is, at its core, a well-meaning one. The Ocean Cleanup plans on launching a flotilla of their floating garbage collectors in the future. If all goes to plan, they say they’ll be able to remove 50% of the plastic that’s currently floating around out there, but many researchers think it’s both a waste of time and money. “Cleaning up in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is, in my view, not a very clever way to address this problem,” marine biologist Jan van Franeker said to The Verge. “It’s such a waste of energy.” Detractors of the Ocean Cleanup think that the money should be spent on recycling facilities and waste management in places that desperately need them.
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