TeamSeas Uses Gigantic Robot to Battle Plastic Pollution




With the help of influencers MrBeast and Mark Rober, fundraising movement TeamSeas raised over $32 million in little over 2 months, enough money to clean over 32 million pounds of garbage from the ocean using the help of a giant, trash-eating robot, making it one of the most impactful ocean cleanup projects in history.

Boyan Slat, the founder of The Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit that creates technologies that aim to save the oceans, created the “Interceptor”, a trash-eating robot that can extract up to 50,000 kilograms of trash from oceans per day.

At just 16 years of age, Boyan Slat started researching ways to solve the plastic pollution problem after going scuba diving, where he became astonished by how much more plastic there was than fish. Such a sight should move anyone, and what started as a school project eventually turned into an idea that went viral. Two years later he pitched his idea on a Tedx Conference and raised enough money to kick off The Ocean Cleanup.

There are currently 11 interceptors that are actively deployed in various rivers, and the goal of Ocean Cleanup is to reach 1000 rivers across the globe by 2025. If this happens, there is the potential to clean an estimated 50,000,000 kilograms of trash from the ocean every single day. With approximately 100,000,000 kg of accumulated plastics in the Pacific Ocean alone, that is the sort of power that can technically clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in just a couple of days!  

However, such a feat relies on the scalability and construction of these interceptors; and while the Interceptors don’t stop plastics from reaching the ocean in the first place—like using seaweed as plastic alternatives can—it does an incredible job of cleaning up the trash that does end up in the ocean, giving a whole new meaning to trash clean up.

The team Seas robot is a watercraft with two hulls. Plastic in the water flows between the hulls and a net captures the garbage. The plastic is then directed onto a conveyor belt and transferred into a shuttle that has six onboard dumpsters.

Every year, 12 million tonnes of plastic find their way into the ocean, causing a significant environmental threat. The primary contributors to ocean plastic pollution are rivers, acting as crucial channels that transport waste from land to the sea. According to The Ocean Cleanup, approximately 80% of this pollution can be attributed to an estimated 1000 rivers; hence, the goal is to reach 1000 rivers by 2025.

However, these mean, trash-eating machines are just one piece of the movement. The success of TeamSeas relied heavily on good old-fashioned manual labor. In the fundraising video created by Mark Rober, a handful of volunteers ended up cleaning a whopping 62,738 pounds of trash, almost twice as much as a single interceptor did.

Ocean Cleanup has also teamed with environmental advocacy group Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit with millions of members that aims to address ocean pollution at the source by connecting impacted communities to their legislative leaders, continuously initiating ocean cleanup projects to address pollution on beaches, and providing think-tank solutions for confronting climate-change and developing more sustainable fisheries.

Photo courtesy of The Ocean Cleanup


Consider for a moment that this whole entire thing, a business of engineers, researchers, scientists, millions of supporters as well as the creation of robots that aim to clean the entire ocean, all began because a 16-year-old was anguished after seeing with his own eyes how plastic pollution turned something so lively and beautiful into something so ugly and destructive.

Boyan Slat had his first Tedx conference at 18 years old. If his vision is to deploy 1000 interceptors by 2025, then who can doubt him or his vision?

In this day and age, the power of influencers is also something that is unbelievable.

A vision can turn a motivational idea Super-Saiyan, allowing millions of people to harness localized knowledge all at once, and translating that knowledge into a movement that is passed down through generations so quickly, that generations themselves don’t need to pass before having the ability to change the entire planet.

When have we ever had that sort of power before in history?

In the case of TeamSeas, that power means $32 million that will now go towards removing 32 million pounds of trash, trash that will no longer be destroying our oceans.

The idea of what’s next is probably more inspirational than the idea that came before it. Each time a goal is reached, the bar for the next goal is raised even higher. The intrinsic desire that people may have to compete against one another may just be one of the finest and most necessary qualities when the purpose behind that competitiveness is a mutual effort to create a better world.

Team Seas is an example of a collective global effort at its finest.

By inspiring people at home to save the oceans, and then engaging communities at the grassroots level, the conservation initiatives they created have addressed pressing challenges and promoted sustainable development—all a testament to the ability we have in creating an amazing world after so much destruction has been done.

These conservation initiatives—like physically cleaning up beaches, and even speaking to Congress— also generate numerous co-benefits for local communities.

By giving off effort for the sake of helping humanity, people create some really incredible things, and they also gain some really incredible insights: like countertop devices that can produce water from air, and ways to possibly enrich the nutritional value we get from food.  

These efforts create countless opportunities, and as long as we are inspiringclick, they will never go unnoticed!


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