In 2013, Boyan Slat began to question the large volumes of plastic accumulating in our oceans and why no one was doing anything to clean it up. At 16 years old, he began research into potential solutions to effectively recover and remove it

Why are we still waiting for the green economy?

We're still in the technology era that started a few decades ago, with the internet, laptops, smart phones and applications – and it seems to just keep on going. Why is it taking so long for the “green economy” button to be switched on?

Actually it’s not taking long. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, this is the 6th innovation wave. The technology, the internet all those things that happened late 80s and 90s that are still going on today were part of another innovation wave. The beginning of that innovation wave has the exact same patterns that we are experiencing right now.

The bell curve of adoption or the diffusion of innovation starts off with early innovators or the inventors, and then early adopters who don’t mind being first movers – they don’t mind paying a bit more to be cool, to be innovative. Then you get a bit of a gap when things move very fast. We saw it in the cellular phone industry where the price of a call and a handset was very expensive – people couldn’t afford it and said it was never going to go anywhere. Well, by 2000 there were 100 million handsets in circulation and 14 years later there are 6.8 billion handsets.

We have exactly the same trends in the sustainability and renewable energy revolution. All these new things fit in an innovation wave that is actually correcting the wrongs of the last five innovation waves; taking those linear processes and joining the ends to make them cyclical, and engaging what we call the circular economy.

Back to top