5 Gyres Institute

Working toward world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impact on humans and animals.

The Problem

Plastic waste — straws, bags, containers — flows in rivers from land to sea, in the runoff from coastal cities, and from maritime activities such as fishing and shipping. It accumulates in “gyres,” large-scale systems of wind-driven surface currents in the ocean. There are five main subtropical gyres — located in the North and South Pacific, the North and South Atlantic, and the Indian Ocean — and plastic trapped within them takes at least 10 years to cycle back out, though much of it is eaten by marine life or sinks to the bottom, harming the health of habitats, animals, and ultimately humans.

The Solution

The mission of 5 Gyres is to empower action against the global health crisis of plastic pollution through science, education, and adventure. The organization works with people, politicians, and corporations to stop emissions at the source, promoting policy changes, smarter plastic product design, and more conscious consumer behavior — like going #plasticfree for a week, a month, or forever. A 2012 5 Gyres expedition culminated in President Obama signing significant legislation to combat plastic pollution. In 2017, 5 Gyres received special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

Stage of Development

  • Early Stage
  • Established Prototype
  • Scaling
  • Other

Organization to Receive Funds

5 Gyres Institute

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