On May 11th 2017, Boyan Slat, Founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup, the Dutch foundation developing advanced technologies to rid the oceans of plastic, announced a design breakthrough allowing for the cleanup of half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in just 5 years.
The main idea behind The Ocean Cleanup is to let the ocean currents do the work. An installation of U-shaped screens channels floating plastic to a central point. The concentrated plastic can then be extracted and shipped to shore for recycling into durable products.
The improvements involve the introduction of a mobile, or drifting system. Rather than fixing the floating screens to the seabed at great depths, The Ocean Cleanup will apply sea anchors to ensure the floating screens move slower than the plastic. Rather than one massive barrier, the improved, modular cleanup system consists of a fleet of screens.