Boyan Slat (1994) combines technology and entrepreneurism to tackle global issues of sustainability. He serves as the founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup, through which he oversees strategy and technology development.
After diving in Greece in 2011, frustrated by coming across more plastic bags than fish, he wondered; 'why can't we clean this up?' This ultimately led to the passive cleanup concept, which he presented in 2012. Instead of going after the plastic, Boyan devised a system though which, driven by the ocean currents, the plastic would concentrate itself, reducing the theoretical cleanup time from millennia to mere years. In 2013, he dropped out of his Aerospace Engineering study to found The Ocean Cleanup.
In June 2014, having lead an international team of 100 scientists and engineers for a year, the concept turned out to be 'likely a technically feasible and financially viable' method to clean up half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 10 years' time. A subsequent crowd funding campaign then raised close to $2.2m, now enabling the organization to start the pilot phase.
Boyan Slat has been recognized as one of the 20 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs Worldwide (Intel EYE50), and is a laureate of the 2014 United Nations Champions of the Earth award, the organization's highest environmental accolade.