The Ocean Cleanup

The largest cleanup in history

03. Good Health and Well-Being14. Life below Water

The Problem

Every year, millions of tons of plastic enter the oceans, of which the majority spills out from rivers. A portion of this plastic travels to ocean garbage patches, getting caught in a vortex of circulating currents. If no action is taken, the plastic will increasingly impact our ecosystems, health, and economies. It will slowly break down into microplastics and become increasingly easier to mistake for food by sea life, thus also entering our food chain.

The Solution

Solving ocean plastic pollution requires a combination of stemming the inflow and cleaning up what has already accumulated. The Ocean Cleanup is developing a passive cleanup method, which uses the natural oceanic forces to rapidly and cost-effectively clean up the plastic already in the oceans. With a full fleet of cleanup systems in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it aims to clean up 50% of its plastic every five years. The organization has also developed the first scalable solution to efficiently intercept plastic in rivers before it reaches the oceans. By placing Interceptors in 1000 strategic locations in rivers around the world, it aims to halt 80% of plastic from entering the oceans in five years’ time.

Why I like it

The Ocean Cleanup addresses one of the greatest environmental disasters of our (and maybe all) time: the pollution of our oceans with plastic waste. Cleaning up the huge mess that is already out there and reducing the inflow of further garbage is a bold and seemingly impossible mission. Yet, action on this issue is is urgently needed as the consequences for sea life, birds and ultimately human health are already severe. The approach taken by the team seems promising. In particular we like the holistic nature of the project that addresses both the existing and the inflowing plastic. Also the fact that the solution leverages natural forces such as wind, waves and currents and is based on state of the art research is encouraging. Finally, the aspiration to turn collected plastic into products in order to use the proceeds to fund the project's operations demonstrates entrepreneurial thinking and makes us confident that this project will be financially sustainable as well.