The Ocean Cleanup

The Ocean Cleanup

The Ocean Cleanup is a developer of technologies to prevent, extract, and intercept plastic solutions.

The Ocean Cleanup develops technologies to extract, prevent, and intercept plastic pollution. Their technology allows ocean currents do the work with U-shaped screens floating plastic to a central point where the concentrated mass can be extracted and recycled.


May 11, 2017
The Ocean Cleanup raises a $31,500,000 grant from Founders Fund and Marc Benioff.
June 8, 2016
The Ocean Cleanup raises a $1,750,000 grant.
September 1, 2014
The Ocean Cleanup raises a $2,200,000 crowdfunding.

Funding rounds

Funding round
Funding type
Funding round amount (USD)
Funding round date
The Ocean Cleanup Grant (money), June 2016
June 8, 2016
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Further reading


Documentaries, videos and podcasts





January 14, 2021
The Ocean Cleanup's mission is to develop advanced technologies to rid the world's oceans of plastic. To achieve this goal, they aim to stop the inflow via rivers and clean up what has already accumulated in the ocean. Its ultimate goal is reaching a 90% reduction of floating ocean plastic by 2040. "As a responsible maritime operator, we are committed to ensuring that the oceans can remain a healthy environment for generations to come. We are therefore very pleased to not just prolong but...
December 12, 2019
The U-shaped device is collecting plastic in a trash-filled ocean vortex that's more than twice the size of Texas.
Aria Bendix
December 12, 2019
Business Insider
The U-shaped device is collecting plastic in a trash-filled ocean vortex that's more than twice the size of Texas.
October 28, 2019
Three of the machines already are deployed to Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam -- and a fourth is heading to the Dominican Republic.
The Associated Press
October 27, 2019
ABC News
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Matt Simon
October 26, 2019
The anti-plastic crusaders have another plan to keep junk from reaching the sea: trash-eating barges in rivers.
Miyo McGinn
October 4, 2019
There's a first time for everything.
Daniel Boffey in Brussels
October 3, 2019
the Guardian
The floating boom skims up waste ranging in size from a discarded net and a car wheel complete with tire to chips of plastic with diameters as small as 1 millimetre. Photograph: AP
Charlotte Van Ouwerkerk
October 2, 2019
A special ship designed to clean the oceans has harvested its first plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch since setting sail from San Francisco last month, its Dutch inventor said Wednesday.
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This man's passive system to clean up ocean pollution using ocean currents is launching in July.
August 26, 2019
Boyan Slat's improved device is in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. An underwater parachute is slowing the system down enough to catch plastic.
January 3, 2019
A giant boom was dispatched to tackle the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but the forces of nature may have been too much for it. Its inventors plan to try again.
September 13, 2018
The Economist
FEW things exercise green sensibilities more these days than marine plastic litter. The detritus looks unsightly when it washes up on beaches, and cruel when it chokes photogenic sea creatures. Scientists estimate that perhaps 8m tonnes of plastic waste enters the ocean each year, discharged by rivers or shed from ships. Plenty stays close to shore. Some, though, is carried by currents to mid-ocean gyres.The biggest of these is located halfway between California and Hawaii--and so littered with flotsam that it has been nicknamed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. A study published last March in Scientific Reports by Laurent LeBreton of the Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch charity, and colleagues, found that it contains between 45,000 and 129,000 tonnes of plastic debris spread over an area roughly the size of Alaska.Get our daily newsletterUpgrade your inbox and get our Daily Dispatch and Editor's Picks.Latest storiesWhy does Britain's most famous TV game show lack female faces?4 hours agoBarry Adamson's 40 years of musical brillianceProspero5 hours agoA brand new passenger jet crashes in IndonesiaGulliver5 hours agoBlasphemy bans are struck out in Ireland and reinforced in AustriaErasmus7 hours agoJair Bolsonaro will be Brazil's next presidentAmericas9 hours agoPhilip Hammond prepares for a low-key budgetBritain11 hours agoSee moreThe idea of sweeping it all up might sound fanciful. To Boyan Slat it seemed merely ambitious. What if, he wondered in 2012 (then aged 18), you could build a massive bow-shaped floating barrier, anchor it to the seabed and let currents shuffle the litter into the scoop? Despite his youthful age and madcap scheme, Mr Slat set up the Ocean Cleanup to put it into practice. Six years, €20m ($23m) and several prototypes later, the device set sail from San Francisco on September 8th, escorted by a Coast Guard vessel, a shipload of camera crews and a flotilla of curious boaters.System 001, as the contraption has been christened, is a hollow cylinder 600 metres long and 1.2 metres in diameter, itself made of plastic (polyethylene). It was moulded together into a seamless whole from 12-metre segments at a shipyard across the San Francisco Bay in Oakland. A three-metre-deep skirt (made of sturdy polyester) dangles beneath the boom to prevent litter from escaping under it; buoyant plastic tends to float within a metre of the water's surface. The device is even simpler than Mr Slat's original idea, having dispensed with the anchor. Instead, it relies on the observation that the boom, which is driven by the current as well as by waves and wind, always moves faster relative to the plastic, which is propelled by the current alone. It therefore scoops the litter up as it drifts.A straight boom will first be towed 250 nautical miles off the coast of California for a fortnight of tests, before embarking on a three-week voyage to its final destination. There it will be turned into a U-shape, with its ends fastened in place using metal lines, and set adrift. Satellite tracking and other electronics will allow its progress to be monitored remotely. Light beacons will alert the two dozen ships which cross the gyre each week to its presence. Some time next year another vessel will be dispatched to fish out the collected rubbish, which the charity hopes to sell to recyclers.If System 001 succeeds, Mr Slat wants to deploy another 60 booms, measuring 1km or more. Corporate sponsors would foot the bill of €5m apiece for construction and three years' operation, Mr Slat hopes. He already enjoys the backing of deep-pocketed endowments and of tycoons like Marc Benioff, founder of Salesforce, and Peter Thiel, a noted investor.The system can do little about plastic that has fragmented into microscopic particles, but these make up just 8% of plastic in the gyre. Mr LeBreton reckons that a fleet of booms could, by 2040, sweep up virtually all the non-tiny detritus, but only if plastic leakage into the sea is stanched. If it continues unabated, the incoming debris would outweigh the fleet's capacity to skim it within a few years. The ocean's plastic problem cannot really be solved without better waste management on land.This article appeared in the Science and technology section of the print edition under the headline "Sweeping the ocean"


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