Boyan Slat (b.1994) is a Dutch inventor who founded The Ocean Cleanup in 2013, a non-profit organisation of which he is now the CEO. After becoming deeply concerned about the amount of plastic he found whilst diving off Greece, and impatient with the prevailing notion that nothing could be done quickly to eliminate ocean plastic pollution, he developed an innovative idea for a technological solution. This was widely picked up in the media and on the internet. Slat dropped out of his university course in Aerospace Engineering , crowd-funded start-up costs, and founded The Ocean Cleanup with its global mission to develop advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.
Slat has developed a system through which, driven by the ocean currents, the plastic concentrates itself, reducing the theoretical clean-up time from millennia to mere years. The first full-scale system is scheduled to be operational in the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” by 2018.
He is the youngest person ever to be awarded the United Nations highest environmental honour, Champion of the Earth, in 2015. He has been named by Goldman Sachs as one of the world’s 100 most intriguing entrepreneurs, and by Reader’s Digest as European of the Year in 2017.
“Technology is the most potent agent of change. It is an amplifier of our human capabilities. Whereas other change-agents rely on reshuffling the existing building blocks of society, technological innovation creates entirely new ones, expanding our problem-solving toolbox.”