Millions of tons of tiny bits of plastic float in giant patches — or gyres — in oceans around the world. There are five large patches of plastic. One of them, the North Pacific Gyre, is roughly twice the size of the United States. All of them are a problem.
These bits of plastic look like food to fish and birds and once consumed, end up killing these animals. But the plastic bits also contain chemicals, such as DDTs and PCBs, that once consumed by small sea creatures then enter the food chain to be consumed eventually by people.
And because plastic doesn’t break down and dissolve, these gyres are going to be around forhundreds, if not thousands of years, even if we stopped polluting tomorrow.
What to do?
Young entrepreneur Boyan Slat wants to develop an array of floating devices designed to clean up the more than 7 million tons of plastic bits suspended in the top layer of the gyres — that’s the weight of 1,000 Eiffel Towers. (click below for more)