An Ambitious Effort to Clean the Oceans of Plastic

Boyan Slat of the Netherlands is leading a project called “The Ocean Cleanup,” aiming to employ passive barriers to collect plastic moved by the world’s ocean currents.  An estimated nine million tons of plastic reach the oceans annually.  Mr. Slat’s ambitious project is described in a PBS NewsHour segment, “Can this project clean up millions of tons of ocean plastic?” (8 min./29 sec) aired on August 14, 2016, and available online at  The segment also gives background information on the problem of plastics in the oceans and how currents move and concentrate the debris into patches, such as the so-called “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” (or “Pacific trash vortex”) in the North Pacific Ocean.

For more information on ocean debris, see the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, “Ocean Trash Plaguing Our Sea,” online at; or the National Geographic Society, “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” online at

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