The Ocean Cleanup

Developing advanced technologies to rid the world's oceans of plastic waste.

The Problem

More than 5 trillion pieces of plastic litter the ocean, with trash drifting into large systems of circulating ocean currents, also known as gyres, to form five vast "ocean garbage patches,” the largest being the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, between Hawaii and California. If left to circulate, the plastic will impact our ecosystems, health, and economies. But cleaning up the garbage patches using the conventional methods of vessels and nets would take thousands of years and cost tens of billions of dollars.

The Solution

The Ocean Cleanup develops advanced technologies to rid the world's oceans of plastic, using a fleet of “passive drifting systems” that take advantage of natural ocean currents. The system consists of a “floater” with a solid screen underneath, concentrating the debris, so it can be extracted and brought back to shore for recycling. The first cleanup system is set to be deployed mid-2018, and after careful monitoring and potential improvements, they will begin scaling up to a full fleet of 60 systems. The Ocean Cleanup aims to remove half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in five years’ time from full scale deployment, at a fraction of the cost of conventional methods. The hope is that the cleanup, combined with source reduction on land, will pave the way to a plastic-free ocean. CEO and founder Boyan Slat says, "For society to progress, we should not only move forward but also clean up after ourselves."

Stage of Development

  • Early Stage
  • Established Prototype
  • Scaling
  • Other

Organization to Receive Funds

Ocean Cleanup Project

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