Cleaning up the Ocean

The Ocean Cleanup proudly sponsors several environmental organizations such as The Ocean Cleanup. Here’s what you should know about this organization and its initiatives.

What Is The Ocean Cleanup?

The Ocean Cleanup was founded in 2013 by Dutch inventor Boyan Slat. Slat first began researching plastic pollution after he saw more plastic bags than fish when scuba diving. During this research, he learned about plastic accumulating in five large oceanic gyres. An example of one of the gyres is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean that spans 1.6 million square kilometers.

Slat gave a TedTalk in 2012 in which he discussed how to rid the world’s oceans of plastic using technology. The talk went viral and allowed him to create the non-profit. The Rotterdam-based organization consists of 120 engineers, researchers, scientists, and computational modelers today and works daily to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.

How does the Ocean Cleanup work?

The Ocean Cleanup seeks to solve the problem of plastic in the ocean at its core. It recommends a two-tiered approach.

  • Halting the trash flow from rivers
  • Removing legacy plastics from the oceans simultaneously

In rivers, The Ocean Cleanup uses a technology called “interceptors.” This helps to prevent plastic from reaching oceans, to begin with. Because just 1 percent of rivers (1,000 rivers overall) are responsible for 80 percent of the plastic going to oceans, it’s important to find a way to stop and capture this waste.

Various types of interceptors are put into the mouth of the heaviest polluting rivers in the world. It captures all the plastic before it can make it to the ocean. The Ocean Cleanup is focused on making this operational scalable while also making them personal. As they say, “You’ve seen one river, you’ve seen one river.” In other words, there’s not necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution due to the width, depth, current, speed, traffic, plants, etc. associated with different rivers. The organization makes sure to evaluate the needs of the river once on site.

Furthermore, once plastics reach an ocean, they can be much more difficult to clean up. They become trapped in a gyre, break down, and fragment into pieces called microplastics (smaller than 5 mm). Microplastics present a danger to marine life because they are often mistaken for food. They are also more difficult to clean up. Therefore, it’s critical to clean up plastic before it reaches this point.

To clean up these garbage patches, The Ocean Cleanup uses a technology called System 002. Using computation modeling, the organization predicts where the garbage hotspots are, which requires the most cleaning. Two vessels are sailing on either side of the hotspot with a “retention zone” of netting rigged in between. Once this system is full of plastic, the retention zone is taken aboard, emptied, and sorted according to recyclable materials.


How to contribute to the Ocean Cleanup

The Ocean Cleanup has successfully funded the cleanup of 500,000 football fields’ worth of the ocean. Their sunglasses are a recycled product they created and sold to not only repurpose the plastic they’re pulling from the ocean but also to fund further cleanups. While they don’t intend to make products of their own in the future, they do have other sustainable products from partners that make a donation to their cause.

Sign up for our free plan to try us out!

Sign up for free
Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Consent to display content from Youtube
Consent to display content from Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from Google
Consent to display content from Spotify
Sound Cloud
Consent to display content from Sound