A young Dutch inventor is helping to clean up the world’s floating plastic from the Pacific Ocean by moving into rivers using a new floating device to catch garbage before it reaches the seas.

The 25-year-old university dropout Boyan Slat, who founded The Ocean Cleanup to develop and deploy a system he invented when he was 18 unveiled the next step in his fight: A floating solar-powered device that he calls the "Interceptor" that scoops plastic out of rivers as it drifts past.

"We need to close the tap, which means preventing more plastic from reaching the ocean in the first place," he says, calling rivers "the arteries that carry the trash from land to sea."

Experts say 8 million metric tons of plastic waste, including plastic bottles, bags, toys and other items, flows annually into the ocean from beaches, rivers and creeks, endangering marine life in the oceans.

Three of the machines have already been deployed to Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam—and a fourth is heading to the Dominican Republic, he says.

Slat says he believes 1,000 rivers are responsible for some 80 percent of plastic pouring into the world's oceans and he wants to tackle them all in the next five years.

"This is not going to be easy, but imagine if we do get this done," he told phys.org. 

The machines currently cost about 700,000 euros, but Slat said the cost will likely drop as production increases.

Source: AAP and phys.org. Image credit: phys.org