The life of Boyan Slat, a young man who wants to clean the oceans

At only 18, he thought of a system to clean up the oceans. Today, the whole world has its eyes on him and his great project, 'The Ocean Cleanup'. This is the life of Boyan Slat. With ChangeNOW Summit

One mission: to rid the world’s ocean of plastic

Dedicating one’s life to solve the plastic problem, that’s the choice Boyan Slat made, a Dutchman born in 1994. Passionate about science since he was a kid, he set a Guinness World Record at the age of 14 for launching 213 water rockets at the same time. Later on, he began his studies in engineering, before quitting to dedicate himself to the issue of plastic.

At that moment, the question that kept me thinking, couldn’t stop thinking about it, and then after half a year of aerospace engineering in university, I decided to drop out and start The Ocean Cleanup. After raising 2 million euros via a worldwide crowdfunding campaign, he embarked on his great project to clean up the oceans.

In 2018, he set up a first floating barrier to collect waste from the Great Pacific garbage patch off the coast of California.But after several months of trying, Boyan Slat and his teams faced many problems. In June 2019, after fixing the problems, a new design was launched into the Pacific Ocean. The objective is to collect 90% of plastic in the oceans. To this end, Boyan Slat also wishes to work on the source of pollution: the earth. 1,000 rivers are responsible for roughly 80% of the world’s plastic pollution. That’s 1% of rivers doing 80% of the damage.

Boyan Slat has already received many rewards: ONU - Champions of the Earth 2014, Forbes - 30 under 30 2016, and Reader’s Digest - European of the Year 2017. Today, the world has its eyes on him, hoping that his system will be an efficient solution to solve the plastic problem. Boyan Slat thinks transitioning the world from being non-sustainable to being sustainable is the biggest challenge of this generation.