Device Pacific Garbage Patch, invented by a 24-year-old.

The road to success hasn’t been easy for 24-year-old Boyan Slat, the founder of The Ocean Cleanup, a startup determined to rid the oceans of massive amounts of harmful plastic.

Slat, a Dutch innovator, came up with his concept for removing garbage from the ocean at age 16, and he’s been refining the idea ever since.

His system is designed to collect plastic using the ocean’s current. The technology remains largely unproven, even after initial tests showed promise.

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The endeavor has been heavily scrutinized by the scientific community, with some scientists worring that the cleanup tool could harm marine wildlife or be broken up by harsh ocean conditions.

But if all goes according to plan, the device could remove half the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — a trash-filled vortex in the Pacific Ocean that is more than twice as large as Texas — within five years.

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Take a look at Slat’s journey.

Slat, who was 16 at the time, previously told Business Insider that he saw more plastic bags than fish during the diving trip.

After returning to school, Slat watched a presentation that explained how currents take garbage from all around the world and bring it together in giant patches. (The Coriolis force, a phenomenon caused by Earth’s rotation, accumulates this debris.)

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These gyres of trash can be found all over the world, but the north Pacific gyre — located between Hawaii and California — is the biggest concentration of garbage in Earth’s waters. Slat said he wondered if the same forces that gather marine debris could be used to take the trash out of the ocean.

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