Boyan Slat is the 19-year-old engineering student behind The Ocean Cleanup project, which proposes to clean up the plastic clogging the planet's major bodies of water in five years.
To clean up millions of tons of plastic—bottles, shopping bags, containers, netting, car parts and more—Slat proposes setting a large garbage-sifting machine in the middle of the ocean.
The five major ocean currents would theoretically push large patches of debris into the boat's floating booms for collection. The sea-inspired booms would cover a huge area, but spare fish and other living organisms from getting caught in its nets.
"No mesh means that even the smallest particles will be diverted and extracted. No mesh, together with its low speed, will result to virtually no by-catch. Although this hypothesis still has to be tested, even the planktonic species due to their density being close to that of the sea water—may move under the booms along with the water flow," Slat writes.
The Ocean Cleanup Project will be undergoing a feasibility study. The project's team is looking for experts in engineering, oceanography, economics, recycling and maritime law to contribute to making this concept a reality.