Boyan Slat’s ocean-cleaning idea has struck a chord with a lot of people. It was recently announced that his project, The Ocean Cleanup, had raised a pretty staggering $31 million, which makes it possible to roll out the first cleanup system early in 2018. Slat estimates that he can remove half of the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage patch in just five years, but critics are calling bullshit.
It’s a reasonably simple idea: the ocean’s currents propel float plastic debris towards strategically placed booms. From there, it’s funneled back into a large central tank, then collected each month and taken back to shore for recycling. The Ocean Cleanup Project eventually wants to pay for the whole thing by making products from the plastic, then selling it.