• Founded 2013

    Dutch inventor Boyan Slat founded The Ocean Cleanup at the age of 18 in his hometown of Delft, the Netherlands.

  • Non-profit foundation

    We are a registered charity as a 'Stichting' in the Netherlands, and a 501(c)(3) in the US.

  • HQ Rotterdam

    The Ocean Cleanup's team consists of 120 engineers, researchers, scientists, computational modelers, and supporting roles, working daily to rid the world's oceans of plastic.

Big problems require big solutions

Every year, millions of tons of plastic enter the oceans, primarily from rivers. And the plastic that’s afloat within the oceans isn’t going away by itself. To effectively solve the problem, we need to both and at the same time.

The Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit organization, is developing and scaling technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. Our aim is to put ourselves out of business once the oceans are clean.

Boyan Slat at the Interceptor in Klang river, Malaysia Plastic catch onboard the support vessel, after emptying the retention zone of System 002. The catch is later sorted and put into containers. Conveyor belt with debris in Klang River, Malaysia Motagua River, Guatemala, plastic pollution

We must defuse this
ticking time bomb

  • Environment

    Plastic pollution in the world's oceans is one of the biggest environmental issues of our time, impacting nearly 700 marine species.

  • Economy

    According to a study conducted in collaboration with Deloitte, yearly economic costs due to marine plastic pollution are estimated to be between $6-19bn USD. The costs stem from the plastic’s impact on tourism, fisheries and aquaculture, and (governmental) cleanups.

  • Health

    Plastic pollution does not only impact sea life, it also carries toxic pollutants into the food chain – a food chain including us humans.

A simple idea turned into a moonshot project

At 16 years of age, Boyan Slat saw more plastic bags than fish when scuba diving in Greece. He thought: “Why can’t we just clean this up?” This question led him to research the plastic pollution problem for a school project. He learned about plastic accumulating in five large oceanic gyres, the largest one being the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In 2012, Boyan Slat held a TedX talk about how to rid the world’s oceans of plastic using technology. The video went viral, and the momentum that followed allowed him to drop out of school and found The Ocean Cleanup.

Boyan Slat, founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup

After many years of research, development, testing, and iteration, The Ocean Cleanup now has technologies to intercept plastic in rivers before it reaches the ocean, and technologies to remove the plastic that is already out there—debris that has been building up for decades.

OCEAN SYSTEMS

Plastic, once trapped in a gyre, will slowly break down, fragmenting into pieces called microplastics. Microplastic debris (< 5mm) is not only more challenging to clean up but is also easily mistaken for food by marine life. The time to clean up is now.

The ocean garbage patches are massive. To effectively clean an area of such magnitude, a calculated and energy-efficient solution is required. With a relative speed difference maintained between the cleanup system and the plastic, we can concentrate the plastic for extraction. Learn more about our ocean technology and System 002, our current ocean system iteration.

System 002 in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, August 2021
System 002 in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, August 2021

The harvested plastic will be brought back to shore for recycling. We have made our very first product – The Ocean Cleanup Sunglasses – using the catch of System 001/B in 2019. Going forward, we do not intend to make our own products, but partner with companies who will use our ocean plastic in their products.

INTERCEPTORS™

1000 rivers, or 1% of the world’s rivers, account for 80% of the plastic flowing into the oceans from land. We have developed a toolkit of Interceptors to tackle these rivers.

Interceptor 002 in Klang River, Malaysia
Interceptor™ 002 in Klang River, Malaysia

Together with corporations, governments and individuals globally, we plan on tackling 1000 of the most polluted rivers with our technology, knowledge, experience, and network.

The Ocean Cleanup is a project; our goal is to reach a 90% reduction of floating ocean plastic by 2040. To see all cleanup systems deployed, visit our Dashboard.

Awards & Recognitions

The impact of cleanup

Research shows the majority of plastic in the gyres by mass is currently in the larger debris. By removing the plastic while most of it is still large, we prevent it from breaking down into dangerous microplastics.

Our aim is to have removed 90% of floating ocean plastic by 2040.

We plan to do this by cleaning up the legacy plastic -the plastic already floating in the ocean- and by “closing the tap” through river plastic interception.

Macroplastic in ocean surface layer.
Macroplastic in ocean surface layer. To clean up the ocean we need to intercept plastic in rivers and clean up what is already out there. Lebreton et al (2019).

Leadership

To succeed in its mission, The Ocean Cleanup’s management team relies on a combination of innovative talent and high-level industry experience. The organization also benefits from the invaluable support and guidance of its advisory boards.

Management team

Boyan Slat CEO & Founder
Jacob Fonteijne Managing Director
Lonneke Holierhoek Director of Science & Operations
Henk van Dalen Director Ocean

Supervisory Board

Bert Bruggeman Chairman
Jaska de Bakker Finance & Governance
Frederik Gerner Technology and R&D
Chris van der Vorm Communications
Feike Sijbesma Senior Advisor to Supervisory Board

Join
the team

Contribute with your skills and build a clean future with us.

Fund the cleanup

Help us fund the full-scale deployment of cleanup systems.