On Saturday, the Ocean Cleanup will finally set sail on its maiden voyage. The 2,000-foot-long system is departing out of San Francisco and, if all goes well, it’ll journey onto the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where it will begin hacking away at the massive floating trash heap.
The Ocean Cleanup is the work of Boyan Slat, a 24-year-old Dutch entrepreneur. Slat was inspired to fight ocean pollution after a visit to Greece when he was still a teenager. He was shocked to see so much plastic clogging the seas, and set out to invent a solution.
He landed on an enormous series of tubes, which float in a curved U-shape. The tubes have a 10ft “skirt,” or screen, attached to the bottom that traps plastic debris in its path. Together, they make up the larger Ocean Cleanup system.