Boyan Slat, 25, is an ambitious social entrepreneur. His goal: Reduce 90 percent of an estimated 80 million kg of plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean, covering an area more than three times the size of France, by 2040. And do it with a technology he likens to raking leaves.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, as it's called, along with marine plastic that fragments into toxic microplastics that contaminate sea life, have been hot topics at G20 and G7 meetings over the past few years, and the efforts of Slat and his nonprofit organization, The Ocean Cleanup, have garnered much international attention.

The organization has developed a U-shaped system consisting of a 600-meter floating pipe and a detached polyester screen that can collect plastic debris up to 3 meters deep and tow it to the garbage patch, the largest accumulation zone for plastic in the world.