Dutch inventor Boyan Slat founded The Ocean Cleanup at the age of 18 in his hometown of Delft, the Netherlands.
The Ocean Cleanup's team consists of more than 80 engineers, researchers, scientists and computational modelers working daily to rid the world's oceans of plastic.
Our headquarters are located in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. We are a registered charity as a 'Stichting' in the Netherlands, and a 501(c)(3) in the US.
Big problems require big solutions
The Ocean Cleanup is a non-profit organization, developing advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.
By utilizing the ocean currents to our advantage, our passive drifting systems are estimated to clean up half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 5 years’ time.
We must defuse this
ticking time bomb
Plastic pollution in the world's oceans is one of the biggest environmental issues of our time, impacting more than 600 marine species.
According to the United Nations, plastic pollution is conservatively estimated to have a yearly financial damage of 13 billion USD. The costs stem from the plastic’s impact on marine life, tourism, fisheries and businesses.
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
The Ocean Cleanup is designing and developing the first feasible method to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. Every year, millions of tons of plastic enter the ocean. A significant percentage of this plastic drifts into large systems of circulating ocean currents, also known as gyres. Once trapped in a gyre, the plastic will break down into microplastics and become increasingly easier to mistake for food by sea life.
Going after it with vessels and nets would be costly, time-consuming, labor-intensive and lead to vast amounts of carbon emission and by-catch.That is why The Ocean Cleanup is developing a passive system, moving with the currents – just like the plastic – to catch it. The floater provides buoyancy to the entire system, while the skirt prevents debris from escaping underneath and leads it into the retention system (“cod end”). A cork line above the skirt prevents overtopping and keeps the skirt afloat. As the system moves through the water, slower than the plastic, the plastic collects within the boundaries of the U-shaped system.
“For society to progress, we should not only move forward but also clean up after ourselves.”
By deploying a fleet of systems, The Ocean Cleanup has estimated to be able to remove 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in just five years’ time. The concentrated plastic will be brought back to shore for recycling and sold to B2C companies. The revenue gained will help fund the cleanup expansion to the other four ocean gyres.
In preparation for full-scale deployment, The Ocean Cleanup organized several expeditions to map the plastic pollution problem in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to an unprecedented degree of detail. The team simultaneously advanced its design through a series of scale model tests, including prototypes deployed in the North Sea 2016, 2017 and 2018. On September 8, 2018, from San Francisco Bay, the first cleanup system towed to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. After known retention issues and a structural fracture, System 001 returned to shore after a four-month deployment. Following a root cause analysis, redesign, procurement, and assembly, System 001/B was then deployed in June 2019.
To succeed in its mission, The Ocean Cleanup’s management team relies on a rare combination of innovative talent and high-level industry experience. The organization also benefits from the invaluable support and guidance of its advisory boards.
Scientific Advisory Board
- Prof. Dr. Richard Spinrad Marine Technology & Oceanography, Marine Technology Society
- Prof. Dr. Alex Oude Elferink International Law of the Sea, Utrecht University
- Prof. Dr. Gerhard J. Herndl Ecology and Biological Oceanography, University of Vienna
- Prof. Dr. Mirek Kaminski Offshore Structures, Delft University of Technology
- Frederik Gerner Chairman on behalf of The Ocean Cleanup
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Fund the cleanup
Help us bridge the gap between the first system and full-scale deployment.