We are drowning in people who talk a lot and do very little, so it’s refreshing to find someone who doesn’t say much but actually does something useful.

Boyan Slat is passionate about tackling pollution but he’s no social justice warrior because Boyan does stuff more than he talks. He didn’t preach or whine about our polluted oceans, he just got on and did something about it, and Ocean Cleanup was born.

Boyan was 16 years old when he started designing an oceanic garbage collection system that uses ocean currents to collect the enormous plastic garbage floating about. He wanted to collect the plastic waste and recycle it to fund the process, and nine years later he finally cracked the tricky retrieval process.

“System 001/B is successfully capturing and collecting plastic debris. After one year of testing, we have succeeded in developing a self-contained system in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that is using the natural forces of the ocean to passively catch and concentrate plastic, thereby confirming the most important principle behind the cleanup concept that was first presented by Boyan Slat at a TEDx conference in October 2012.”

The Ocean Cleanup

Earlier this year, ExPFC wrote for Whaleoil that he was impressed by Boyan’s “pretty ingenious system involving a floating U-shaped boom hundreds of metres long, which is designed to be abandoned in the ocean while it gets blown about by the wind and currents, casually trapping thousands of tonnes of plastic ready for later removal by a ship for recycling.” He was however highly critical of Ocean Cleanup’s self-imposed time frame.

“If all goes according to plan the device could eventually remove half the plastic in the great Pacific Garbage Patch – a trash filled vortex in the Pacific Ocean that is more than twice as large as Texas – within five years.”


“By their own admission, the GPGP covers over 1.6 million square kilometres, that’s apparently three times the size of France. Each one of these booms has an open end of just 100 metres or so, that’s only 0.1 sq kms of area trawled for each kilometer drifted. In any case, there simply will never be enough of them to make any difference whatsoever.But at least they have managed to take some plastic out of the water on their ill-fated trial.The plan, which has so far cost over $20 million, was to ramp up the program with the aim to soon have around sixty of these booms floating about in the ocean, leading to 50% of the plastic being removed every five years!”


ExPFC did some thinking and came up with the idea of placing Boyan’s retrieval booms at major river mouths because that’s where 95% of plastic enters the ocean.

Now, if someone were to tell Boyan about ExPFC’s brilliant idea it might grow legs!

Compare Boyan Slat at 16 years old with his antithesis, Greta Thunberg, at the same age.
Where Boyan’s passion for pollution is channelled into the energy needed to design a solution, Greta’s passion about climate change is focused on making sure the whole world knows about her angst on the subject. She protests by skipping school once a week, going on hunger strikes and generally berating the world about not doing enough about climate change.

Greta preceded our PTPM when she assailed us from the UN podium, which was a good thing because Greta doesn’t need any lessons from Ardern about talking about problems rather than solving them. Both women are experts in the art of saying much and doing little.

We need a resurgence of the art of saying little and doing much. Our hero in this, by the way, is Donald Trump – a rarity in politics due to his ability to talk and walk at the same time.


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