The Ocean Cleanup
Dutch inventor Boyan Slat founded The Ocean Cleanup at the age of 18 in his hometown of Delft, the Netherlands.
We are a registered charity as a 'Stichting' in the Netherlands, and a 501(c)(3) in the US.
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 turn off the tap and mop the floor 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.
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 nearly 700 marine species.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1000 rivers, or 1% of the world’s rivers, account for 80% of the plastic flowing into the oceans from land. The Interceptor™ is the first scalable solution to prevent plastic from entering the world’s oceans from rivers.
It is 100% solar-powered and can extract plastic autonomously. Together with corporations and governments, we plan on tackling 1000 of the most polluting rivers all over the world in five years from scale-up.
The Ocean Cleanup is a project; our goal is to reach a 90% reduction of floating ocean plastic by 2040.
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.
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.
- Boyan Slat CEO & Founder
- Jacob Fonteijne Managing Director
- Lonneke Holierhoek Director of Science & Operations
- Henk van Dalen Director Ocean
- 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
Contribute with your skills and build a clean future with us.
Fund the cleanup
Help us fund the full-scale deployment of cleanup systems.