A major initiative aiming to rid a rubbish-riddled area of the Pacific Ocean from all its discarded plastic will begin work within the next 12 months.

The Ocean Cleanup foundation, initiated by Dutch engineering student Boyan Slat when he was just 20 years old, announced the development at an event in Utrecht earlier this month.

Slat said the first major operation will begin in 2018 in an area known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a swirling vortex of mainly plastic waste located in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean.

The team will use a floating barrier to slowly push the plastic to shore. This update of the initial design, which was recognised at the Designs of The Year awards in 2015, will be weighted to move with the current instead of fixed to the sea bed. Once ashore, the waste plastic would be recycled and turned into sellable products to help fund the project.

“We thought what if instead of fixing the system to the seabed, we fixed it to this deeper water level where the current isn’t as strong,” said Slat. “The system would start to drift – but that’s entirely okay because as long as it moves slower than the plastic we will collect plastic.”

“The elegance of the design is that we managed to make it even simpler,” he added. “It’s just one barrier, one anchor, two lines connecting them and a central passive collection point for the plastic.”

Read more: The Ocean Cleanup will begin extracting plastic from the Pacific in 2018