Ocean Plastic Pollution
- Is there really an island of plastic waste floating in the Pacific?
The ocean garbage patches are not solid ‘islands’ of trash. Rather, the plastic is dispersed, forming massive ‘debris fields’. But that does not mean these areas aren’t highly polluted and don't require cleaning up. The average concentration of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is around 60 kg per square kilometer, and peaks at several hundred kg per square kilometers. For comparison: a few hundred kilometers from the patch you’d struggle to find values of 0.1 kg per square kilometers. A summary of the science of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch can be found here.
- Is the plastic all at the ocean surface, or deeper down as well?
In 2014 and 2015 The Ocean Cleanup organised several expeditions to measure the vertical distribution of plastic, in high resolution for the top five meters of the ocean. Results were published in Biogeosciences and Nature Scientific Reports.
The smaller the pieces get, the more sensitive they are to mixing due to wind and wave turbulence. The measurements showed that even the microplastics stay on or near the surface in turbulent seas. The highest concentrations of microplastics were found directly on the surface and quickly went to trace concentrations when at only a few meters of depth. Larger objects, which comprise most of the mass of plastic in the ocean, are more buoyant and are found almost directly at the ocean surface.
It is important to note that we’re referring to the floating fraction of plastic. Part of the plastic that enters the ocean is of a plastic type that is heavier than water. However, most packaging and fishing gear (the two primary sources of ocean plastic) is made of buoyant types of plastic (Polyethylene and Polypropylene), and most life can be found in the top part of the ocean, which is why The Ocean Cleanup focuses on the floating plastic.
The vertical distribution of ocean plastic in wind condition that are average for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (left) and more windy conditions (right). Derived from Kooi et al., 2016.
- Is it true that most of the plastic pieces are tiny (microplastics)?
Although microplastics are most abundant by count, our reconnaissance of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch revealed that 92% of the plastics are still large objects in terms of mass. The smallest size class we quantified, pieces smaller than 1.5mm, accounts for just 0.77% of the mass.
Compare it to standing next to Mount Everest while holding a handful of pebbles. While the pebbles in your hand are more abundant by count than the mountain (for which the count equals 1), the mountain, obviously, contains more rock than your hand does. As you can see, it’s the mass that counts (pun intended).
So, most of the plastic floating in the ocean garbage patches is still intact as large objects, which is even more reason to go and clean it up – before the 92% breaks down into more and more small pieces.
Most plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is contained in large objects. Lebreton et al., 2018
- What are the long-term effects of plastic pollution in the oceans?
Because plastic is such a persistent material, the ecological, economic and eco-toxicological effects of plastic pollution are all long-term. These include:
- Physical impact on marine life: entanglement, ingestion, starvation
- Chemical impact: the buildup of persistent organic pollutants like PCBs and DDT
- Transport of invasive species and pollutants from polluted rivers to remote areas in the ocean
- Economic impact: damage to fisheries, shipping and tourism
In recent years, the amount of attention focused on very small plastic particles has increased dramatically, but little is yet known about their long-term effects on the environment. The microplastics The Ocean Cleanup is focused on preventing is the so called secondary microplastics, i.e. plastic fragments resulting from breakdown of larger plastic debris at land and sea.
- Who should be responsible for cleaning the gyres?
Since the accumulation zones are located outside of national territories, no single party is seen as responsible for the cleanup of the plastic pollution. Hence, intergovernmental bodies or independent private initiatives are the only entities likely willing to tackle this problem.
- How can I help prevent plastic pollution?
There are several steps you can take to prevent plastic pollution, but some depend on recycling facilities in your area. Here are a few tips:
- Organize beach, river bank or land cleanups
- Reduce your use of disposable plastics (including microbeads in cosmetics)
- Make sure you dispose of trash properly
- Wash your synthetic clothing as little as possible
- Reuse and recycle whenever possible
- Support us financially with a donation or apply to The Ocean Cleanup to help us develop our system
- Lobby to your (local) government
- Will cleaning just incentivize people to continue polluting?
This assumes littering is a conscious action. Plastic enters the oceans primarily through negligence; unconscious actions of people that do not think about (or are unaware of) the consequence of the action. Once the consequences of one’s actions are raised to the conscious level, people can make rational cost-benefit analyses of their actions and would probably think twice about throwing their rubbish into the environment. And what better thing can one do to raise the topic into the public awareness than by executing a very visible project like The Ocean Cleanup?
Right now, the oceanic plastic problem is quite an abstract problem. Since the patches aren’t solid masses of plastic they're difficult to photograph, and, in any case, they are very far away. By lifting the plastic out of the ocean and showing the world mountains of trash coming into port, we remove the abstractness of the problem and bring it much closer to home.
Cleaning plastic from the ocean, as well as all the R&D required to make it happen, also helps to increase the available knowledge of the problem, as our numerous scientific publications have shown. This in turn allows us to develop better technologies and policies to also address the prevention-side of the equation.
The moral hazard argument can also be countered by the Broken Window Theory, which says that that visible signs of social disobedience (graffiti, litter, etc.) promotes more of such behavior. People are, for example, more likely to litter when the park they walk in is already littered. By making the ocean clean again, we avoid the idea that the oceans are already full of plastic and that one extra piece of plastic won’t make much of a difference.
Saying that the oceans can’t be cleaned up and the only thing we can do is to try to not make it worse is a very depressing message. If the oceans are truly polluted forever, why bother trying to do something about it?
Following the logic of the moral hazard in reverse, it looks like the best way to stop plastic pollution will be to stop collecting litter from the streets and remove any waste infrastructure because these things all give people an incentive to create more waste in the first place. Obviously, that is not true. The data shows countries with the least amount of waste infrastructure have the highest rates of plastic leakage.
As always, it is important to make a balanced assessment between a hypothetical risk in the future, versus a certain impact today.
The Ocean Cleanup System
- What does "passively collecting" mean?
Actively going after plastic with vessels and nets would be costly, labor intensive, harmful for sea life and would take very long. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an area twice the size of Texas, and although the density of plastic is higher than outside the patch, the plastic is still very dispersed (10-100kg / km2). This is why cleaning up the patch has been deemed impossible.
To catch the plastic, we need to act like plastic. We will use the ocean's currents to carry our approximately 60, 1-2 km systems throughout the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, moving in the same manner and patterns that the plastic follows in the accumulation zone, although slightly faster. The difference in speed is what makes concentrating the plastic possible.
The systems will move faster than the plastic, due to the influence of wind and waves on the system; these forces do not affect the plastic as much as the system, because the plastic floats primarily just below the surface. Thanks to the systems’ faster pace, the cleanup system will be able to catch up with the plastic, like a Pac-Man, and concentrate it in its U-shape. A support vessel will empty the systems every 6-8 weeks.
- Is the cleanup system already installed and cleaning up the ocean?
No. The Ocean Cleanup has conducted a series of scale model tests, during which the design of the system was continuously strengthened and improved. We deployed a prototype in the North Sea, off the Dutch coast, in summer 2016 as well as in fall 2017. We expect to deploy our first cleanup system in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by mid-2018. We expect to reach full scale cleanup in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 2020.
- Can you rid the oceans of plastic entirely?
We will never remove every last gram of plastic from the oceans. However, combined with sources reduction, a significant decrease of floating marine litter in the accumulation zones of the oceans can be reached. Calculations show we can clean up 50% of the debris in the Great North Pacific Patch in 5 years from deployment.
- Can you provide an overall solution to ocean plastic pollution?
No. The Ocean Cleanup can significantly reduce the concentration of plastics in the ocean "garbage patches", but it is of paramount importance to "close the tap" as well. In other words we need to prevent more plastic from entering the oceans in the first place. Solving the overall problem will require radical changes at the individual, corporate and governmental levels of society. However, cleanup of the oceanic accumulation zones is necessary, because the current plastic pollution will not go away by itself, and it creates an ecological risk by eventually breaking down into more dangerous microplastics.
- Can you deploy this system in coastal areas, seas and rivers too?
We are currently preparing for the upcoming Pacific cleanup trials, by finalizing our engineering, making operational preparations and conducting subsystem tests. The North Pacific cleanup trials are set to start in late 2017. Hence, our system is currently designed for circulating ocean currents, not for coastal areas, seas and rivers.
However, "closing the tap" is of importance as well in order to make our ocean cleanup efforts more lasting. We are therefore considering spin-off systems for coastal areas and rivers that would intercept plastic before it reaches the ocean.
- Will the systems interrupt shipping pathways?
The ocean garbage patches are vast (three times the size of France) and vessels crossing through it are rare - on average there are less than five within its boundaries. Coupled with the relatively small size of the cleanup systems, the chances of a vessel interacting with a system are minor.
But minor does not mean impossible. Hence it is crucial that we fit our cleanup systems with safety equipment, as is required for any other oceangoing vessel.
To prevent collisions, we defined five ‘safety rings’ around the system through which we aim to do everything possible to notify vessels of our systems’ whereabouts. Navigational warnings will be broadcast through the Notice to Mariners with current system location information. Additionally, the systems are fitted with many detection capabilities so that vessels can avoid our systems. For instance, our first cleanup system is fitted with nine light masts that rise four meters above the waterline, AIS beacons and radar reflectors.
We will also continuously monitor the health and whereabouts of our systems 24/7 through on-board cameras and GPS trackers. We will be able to identify when the system drifts too close to the edge of the patch (where the vessel traffic density is higher), after which we can engage in a manual correction of the system’s trajectory, towing it back to the center of the patch.
- How will the systems withstand severe storms?
There are two primary engineering challenges when developing our ocean cleanup system; 1) how to maximize the cleanup efficiency of our technology, and 2) how to ensure the system can survive at sea for at least 20 years.
The latter is indeed a challenge, but not insurmountable. The key to the systems' life longevity is that we have designed them to be both simple and flexible. Structural problems usually arise at interfaces; the connection between parts. In theory, the number of possible failures scales exponentially with the number of parts in a system. To overcome this, the engineers have maintained the cleanup system design to be as simple as possible. When comparing the concept as presented in 2014, 2017 and 2018, there is a clear trend towards an ever-simpler design.
Additionally, the system is designed to be flexible enough so that it can follow the waves, limiting the magnitude of the loads the system would absorb. Thanks to the free-floating nature of the system this is possible. For propulsion, the cleanup systems only absorb the small wind waves. Swell waves, which carry higher energy, simply pass underneath the system, because the system is flexible enough to follow they shape.
To be conservative, the engineers designed our system for weather conditions that the system is only expected to encounter once every 100 years (a 14-meter significant wave height), although we only expect our systems to be deployed for 20 years. Large safety factors have also been applied to account for possible inaccuracies in our models and calculations.
We acknowledge this is a difficult engineering challenge (as our prototyping has shown). As with any novel technology, success is not guaranteed, but this is exactly why we test, test and test again. Until the final risks and uncertainties have been mitigated, System 001 is still labelled a ‘beta system’. We are, however, certain that our learning-by-doing method, in combination with building on a team that has close to 500 years of engineering experience between them, is the only path that can lead to success.
- How do you make sure the system does not break?
Our systems have been designed for a once-in-100-year storm and have extensively tested the components for this. However, several safety features are built-in that prevent the loss of equipment if worst scenario does occur.
We have also fitted every system with redundant GPS trackers along the entire cleanup system, which allows us to detect when something is broken (the U-shape would look different). Should this happen, using the same trackers, we would be able to trace the parts if someone cut through the system.
Furthermore, the floater pipe is fitted with a watertight bulkhead every 24 meters. This means that, in the case of a hull breach, the system would not completely flood and sink. Every pipe section is also fitted with a leak detection sensor, which will notify us in case there is water in any of the compartments.
Regarding the screen, we fitted every screen section with two safety lines that can maintain a connection between the floater and the screen in case there is any damage to the screen or the regular screen connection.
Finally, the material we chose for the floater pipe was chosen to ensure we do not suffer any UV degradation during the lifetime of the cleanup systems. The type of polymer used (HDPE 100RC carbon black) is the same as is used in fish farm floaters, which have been in service for decades without signs of degradation.
- Will the systems impact sea life?
The number one reason we’re developing ocean cleanup technology is to stop the destruction plastic is causing to hundreds of species worldwide. Making sure our systems themselves do not negatively impact (marine) life is therefore naturally our number one design driver.
After completing the final design of our first cleanup system in 2017 we contracted the independent environmental consultancy company CSA Ocean Sciences to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment. The study can be found here. Although it is very hard to assess the impact of something that has never been done before, the researchers studying the design for the EIA did not identify any high risks to marine life.
The ocean cleanup systems are designed to be inherently safe for marine life in four ways. Firstly, the systems move through the ocean at extremely low speeds (less than 10 cm per second) – slow enough for creatures to swim away. Secondly, because the screen is impermeable, the current will flow underneath the screen, taking away organisms that can’t actively move, while the plastic (which floats) remains inside the system. Thirdly, because the screen is not a net, CSA also didn’t identify a significant entanglement risk. Finally, we only actually take out the plastic out of the water periodically, which means there will always be people present to check for marine life before we lift the plastic out of the water.
Having said that, we continue to follow a precautionary approach, meaning we will actively monitor the interaction between the system and marine life as we will have the first cleanup system in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
- Will the systems have a Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) effect?
We have identified multiple solutions to mitigate our systems from having FAD (Fish Aggregating Device) effects.
The first is the result of passive mitigation; our newest design relies on the difference in speed between the plastic and the systems. The barrier will be moving faster than the upper layer of the ocean current. The effort required for the fish to maintain the same speed as the system will reduce the likelihood and attraction for fish creating communities near the floaters or screens.
The collection timing, currently scheduled for every 6-8 weeks, will also play a part in mitigation efforts. Extracting the plastic from the water will remove some of the food and shelter opportunities that would attract our technology as a FAD.
As this is a new technology, we will continually monitor our systems while they are in the water. We will study the relationship between the marine life and plastic accumulation in order to fine-tune the plastic collection schedule. This not only improves the collection efficiency but decreases the risk of harm to the natural environment.
Furthermore, to continue to increase our understanding of the topic, we have established a partnership with the University of Miami, where we are funding a research student to delve even further into this topic.
- Will the CO2 footprint undo the positive effects of the cleanup?
The CO2 footprint of a cleanup operation using conventional methods (boats and nets) would indeed be staggeringly high and would indeed likely offset the positive effects of removing plastic from the oceans. The difference is that our cleanup method is not a conventional method.
The Ocean Cleanup’s systems are 100% powered by the natural forces of nature. The current, wind and waves propel the cleanup systems through the oceans, while the solar energy is used to power the electronics aboard the units. The only thing that does require fuel is the vessel that collects the plastic and service the systems.
Estimations (based on assumptions on the number of required vessels and collection frequency) indicate the expected carbon footprint of plastic collected from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not much higher than regular virgin plastic once we are fully operational. But this assumes we use regular marine diesel, while we may be able to use bio-based fuels.
South Pole is also partnering up with us to help us offset a substantial part of the vessel CO2 emissions for the first cleanup system.
- How long will it take to clean up a gyre?
A complete cleanup of a gyre is unrealistic, but calculations show we can clean up 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 5 years from deployment of our systems. To ensure we cleanup as much plastic as possible, source reduction initiatives will need to continue to occur simultaneously.
Due to our continued extraction of plastic the concentration of plastic decreases, meaning that the cost of collection per kilo increases. Hence, we have to calculate how long it will be financially viable to keep the systems deployed, although the goal is to clean up as much as possible.
- To what depths will you be able to extract plastic?
The Ocean Cleanup focuses on the floating fraction of plastics. Since most of it is located between the surface and a depth of five meters, the cleanup system will be designed to clean up only the plastic which is located in this upper layer of the water column. The Ocean Cleanup’s engineers are currently calculating the optimal length of the screen catching plastic under the surface.
For more information about the distribution of plastic in the water column, read our update about vertical distribution here.
- Which sizes of plastic can your system capture?
Our cleanup systems will be able to catch centimeter sized plastic according to basin tests and numerical analysis. Even though sub-centimeter sized plastic represents a significant share of the plastic count, the mass is made up of larger objects. These larger objects will eventually turn into microplastics if not extracted, so our goal is to prevent that from happening.
- How much plastic can you remove from the ocean?
According to meso-scale model estimations, a full-scale deployment of multiple systems will be able to collect more than 50% of the current amount of plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 5 years. Each system is estimated to collect 3 tons of debris per week. The cleanup needs to be paired with prevention efforts on land in order to make more lasting effects.
- How will you clean up 50% of the plastic in 5 years?
Fortunately, we will not have to skim all of the world’s ocean surface (145 million km2) to remove plastic, but only the five ocean garbage patches, the largest one of which (the Great Pacific Garbage Patch) measures 1.6 million km2. This is because the plastic floating outside of these ocean garbage patches either naturally removes itself from the ocean by beaching onto a coastline, or eventually also ends up in an ocean garbage patch. The cleanup is focused on those accumulation zones, where the plastic does not go away by itself.
The gyres are still large areas where the plastic is dispersed, which makes cleaning up plastic by using conventional methods unfeasible. This is why we have developed a passive cleanup method. Because our cleanup systems "act like the plastic", we see in our models that the cleanup systems do not travel a random path but pass through areas where the plastic concentration is higher than average.
The dimensions and specifications of the scale-up version of our cleanup system has yet to be confirmed. Assuming it would have a span of 800 meters and travels at 10 cm/s, the math shows that with a fleet of 60 systems, a surface area of about 150,000 square kilometers would pass through the systems every year – about 10% of the surface area of the patch.
Computer models indicate that this will result in a recovery of 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – every five years.
Capture efficiency / vertical distribution
- How has the concept changed since the feasibility study?
The biggest change is the switch from a moored system to a drifting system; catching the plastic by acting like plastic. We learned this has many advantages: higher plastic capture efficiency, reduced deployment- and maintenance cost, reduced risk of damage due to lower forces on the system from wind, waves and current to name a few.
From the North Sea Prototype, our largest test as of yet, we learned about the dynamic behavior of a cleanup system in the open sea. We also learned how to assemble, install and operate such a system.
We have designed a much more robust and effective system based on the learnings of our studies and tests. It is not perfect yet, but it will be at a good point to start the iterative process of testing and improving the system in the Pacific Ocean.
- Why did you change from a drift anchored system to a wind driven one?
Our cleanup system design is very different from existing structures, and available data is therefore limited. With further testing and research, we discovered that the wind and wave drift loads on the floater were higher than previously estimated. This caused the system to travel at a speed that would be too fast to catch the plastic and the plastic would hit the outside of the system rather than the inside. Due to these higher wave drift loads, the drift anchor would have to be unrealistically large for the system to move slower than the surface current.
We decided to use these forces to our advantage, by removing the anchors and let the system travel towards the plastic, at a faster speed than the plastic, which also creates a more efficient capture rate. In this new configuration, the screen and floater are shaped such that the system automatically orients the outside of the U-shape towards the incoming wind - using the wind, wave and current forces. Because the plastic is primarily moved by the currents only, it will move at a slower rate and can then be contained in the U-shaped system.
- What are the main benefits of a wind driven system compared to the drift anchored one?
In short, these are the main benefits:
- The less components and connections our cleanup system has, the more durable it becomes and the higher the likelihood is of its success. If we can make the cleanup system perform better by removing elements, it is always preferred.
- Sometimes, the drift anchor had the effect of pulling the ends of the system together, through the anchor lines. This reduced the effective span of the system and thus the plastic capture efficiency. Furthermore, the wind-driven system moves faster through the water which makes it sweep a larger area per day, also leading to a higher plastic capturing efficiency.
- The wind-generated waves are now approaching the system from the outside of the U-shape. These waves are steep, which could overtop the floater, which was an issue for the drift anchored system. But in this configuration the overtopping will not wash out plastics, as it is coming from the outside in to the system, rather than the other way around.
- How are you determining the best location and design for the system?
We have computer models that show us which areas that have the highest concentration of plastic, based on our reconnaissance data. This is where we will release the first system.
The design is tested by conducting research and scale model tests. Once the first system is deployed, we will continue to improve our design, based on the impact and behavior in its designated environment.
Optimizing our design
- What material will the screen be made out of?
It will be made of a type of geotextile: a tightly woven textile that is strong but flexible, which is needed to withstand the different hydrodynamic scenarios it will be subjected to. The material is impenetrable for marine life.
- What material will the floater be made out of?
The floater boom will be made out of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), a material that is commonly used for pipes on or in the seabed.
Plastic extraction and usage
- What will you do with the plastic once it's extracted from the oceans?
Our plan is to recycle the plastic and turn it into feedstock for new durable products. We hope to be able to fund the expansion of our cleanup, from the North Pacific gyre to the other four gyres, with the help of this revenue. Some of the plastic of lower quality might also be turned into energy.
- How will you extract the plastic from the ocean?
Once the cleanup system has collected maximum plastic, a signal is sent to our Mission Control Center in San Francisco and the system is then tracked by AIS. Once the location is known a vessel picks up the collected plastic and transports it back to land. We will assess different means of transport back to land in terms of sustainability.
- Why do you transport the plastic to land instead of processing it at sea?
After exploring the options of recycling the plastic at sea, our team has determined that processing plastic on land is more practical. There the collected material will be selected in a range of qualities. High quality material will be mechanically recycled to serve as feedstock for new durable product. Lower quality material will be converted into energy.
- Can my company use the plastic you have collected?
We aim to recycle the plastics we extract, and to use the revenue to finance a large-scale cleanup operation. We already know the plastics are of suitable quality for recycling and many parties have expressed an interest in obtaining our ocean plastic. However, we are still several years away from large-scale plastic extraction. For the first years, we have already selected the manufacturing partners to help us create our own new products.
The Ocean Cleanup Organization
- How did The Ocean Cleanup come into existence?
In 2011, then 16-year-old Boyan Slat was diving in Greece and was surprised to see more plastic than fish. Together with a friend he explored oceanic plastic pollution and the difficulties of cleaning it up for a high school science project. Boyan remained fascinated by the problem and continued working on his passive clean-up concept during his freshman year at university. This eventually led him to start The Ocean Cleanup.
- Is it possible to do my internship at The Ocean Cleanup?
Please visit the Careers page to see if we have any outstanding internships available. If you have a specific interest and it is not listed under our vacancies, please send a message detailing your interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- How can I invite Boyan Slat to speak at our event/conference?
Please send your request through our contact form.
- Where can I find more information for my presentation/school project?
Although most public information can be found on this website, please use our contact form for any unanswered questions.
- Do you have a newsletter I can sign up to?
We do have a newsletter. You can subscribe to it via the field in the footer. You can also stay up to date on our progress by following us on social media. We are active on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook.
- Do you have merchandise?
Yes, we started providing merchandise as of “The Next Phase” event on May 11, 2017. You can purchase water bottles from Dopper, t-shirts and sweaters from Rapanui and hats, duffel bags and jackets from Musto. Check out our shop page for more info.
- Where can I find your scientific publications?
You can find all of our scientific publications here.
Our research team is currently busy with data-calibration of our ocean plastic transport model and analysis of persistent organic pollutants on plastics. These will be submitted in 2017 and published early 2018.
- Where can I find more details about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?
See our dedicated Great Pacific Garbage Patch page here.
- Will The Ocean Cleanup publish more research results in the future?
Our research team published their most extensive research paper on March 22, 2018, in Scientific Reports. The study combined the data from the Mega- and Aerial Expedition, to paint a clear picture of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Read more in our update about the main findings. In relation to the publication, we also created a page dedicated to summarizing all of our findings, also from past publications.
Now that the team has completed the assessmebt for the baseline, they will now focus on assisting Pacific team to assess the performance of our first cleanup system, to be deployed mid-2018.
The research team will also work on completing a mass balance of the problem, in an attempt to understand how persistent the patch is, and what causes the gap between the inflow and stock of plastic.
SUPPORT, FUNDING AND DONATIONS
- How are you financing the cleanup?
We are financing the project with the help of philanthropic, commercial and governmental donations/sponsorships.
If you would like to support The Ocean Cleanup by making a donation, we would be very grateful. Read more and donate here.
If you are a company interested in sponsoring or donating to The Ocean Cleanup, please contact us through our contact form.
- How can my company or organization help The Ocean Cleanup?
Thank you for wanting to help The Ocean Cleanup. We are open to institutional and corporate collaborations. Please contact us through our contact form regarding potential partnerships or collaborations with The Ocean Cleanup.
- How can I help The Ocean Cleanup as an individual?
Besides monetary support, your relevant knowledge and skills may be a very welcome addition to The Ocean Cleanup. Our work requires not only scientific and technical expertise, but also assistance with legal, commercial and policy matters. If you would like to get actively involved in our work, please visit the Careers page to see our current open positions.
You can also help us by sharing our story. Although the awareness for plastic pollution is growing rapidly, there are still many who are not aware. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube or Facebook for updates on our progress and feel free to share our content. Our project would never have been possible in the first place without the internet, and the power of the crowd.
- How can I help you raise awareness and/or raise funds?
First of all, thank you very much for wanting to help us raise awareness and/or funds! You are free to use the content of our website for non-profit purposes, as long as you clearly state that your activity is independent of, and not endorsed or sponsored by, us. These same conditions apply if you engage in any activity to help fund our projects. You can use all downloadable information from our website (see image gallery here) to support your initiative. To license content for commercial work, please contact us through our contact form.
- Do you plan to do another crowdfunding campaign?
Crowdfunding gave us a great boost at an early stage of our project. In the summer of 2014, it helped us to attract the support of 38,000 people from 160 countries. We do not have plans for a new crowdfunding campaign, but we still rely on personal donations. You can donate through our funding page. If you wish to sponsor us or consider giving us a large donation, please contact us directly through email@example.com.
You can read more about our crowdfunding campaign in our milestone section.
- I have a boat/own a research vessel and want to help. What can I do?
We collected a substantial amount of plastic and data during our Mega Expedition in August 2015 and our Aerial Expedition in October 2016, which we now have analysed and compiled into a research paper, to be published early 2018.
However, we are still open to receiving more data via our app. If you’re planning on crossing a gyre and interested in collecting data, you can download our Visual Survey app to conduct visual surveys during your voyage. The app is available through Google Play and App Store.
When we have deployed our first cleanup system in mid-2018 in the North Pacific, we will monitor the system and all potential sea life around it for an extended period of time. If your research vessel would be available for us to use in future research like this or others, please contact us through our website contact form.
Thank you for wanting to help!
- Can my company sponsor a system?
In the run up to full-scale deployment in 2018 and 2019, we welcome corporations to take part in the largest cleanup in history. By sponsoring a system, you help speed up the full-scale cleanup. Your logo will be placed on the floater and you can track your own system through its course in the gyre with our app. Please contact us through firstname.lastname@example.org, if you are interested in sponsoring a system.
- Can I buy a system for a coastal area, river or sea?
Our focus is currently only on the five oceanic gyres, where floating plastic accumulates. Our first cleanup system currently being assembled in Alameda is specifically designed for circulating ocean gyres and cannot be used for cleanup of coastal areas, rivers and seas. For more details on how our system works, please see our technology page.
We will deploy our very first cleanup system in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, halfway between Hawaii and California, by the end of the summer 2018. Before deploying our second cleanup system in this patch, we will iteratively improve our design based on the lessons learned from the first system. After this, we will start scaling up more rapidly. We have calculated that we would need a fleet of 60 cleanup systems in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to reach a 50 % plastic reduction in 5 years’ time.
When our technology has been proven for the ocean, and we are well on our way to reaching a full fleet of cleanup systems in the North Pacific, we could potentially devote time and resources to spin-off projects. If you have an interest in buying a system for other areas than the gyres, feel free to send us an email through our contact form, detailing your interest, so we can keep your details on file for the future.
SUPPORT AND FUNDING
- Are donations to The Ocean Cleanup tax deductible?
Because The Ocean Cleanup is registered as a Dutch ANBI foundation, donations are tax deductible in the Netherlands. Donations to The Ocean Cleanup made through the Netherland America Foundation are also tax-deductible for US citizens. The NAF is qualified as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization by the U.S. government. If you would like to make a donation to The Ocean Cleanup through The NAF, please visit their donation page.
For tax deductions for international donations, please consult your tax advisor.
- Can I donate in another currency, besides EUR and USD?
We accept donations in Euro or US Dollar amounts, because we can receive these without paying conversion fees. If your account has another currency, you are still able to donate via our website. If you have an amount in mind that you would like to donate, calculate how much that equals in either euros or US dollars. Enter the amount on our funding page and choose your preferred payment method. Your bank/PayPal account will be debited the amount equivalent in your own currency.
- Can I transfer an amount directly to your bank account?
Thank you very much for wanting to support our project. We currently have two accounts you can transfer a donation to, if you cannot or do not want to donate via our funding form:
If you are donating in EURO:
Account number: NL73 ABNA 0529 4518 24
Account name: "Stichting The Ocean Cleanup"
Branch Location: Netherlands
Address: ABN AMRO Kneuterdijk, Postbus 19507, 2500 CM The Hague
If you are donating in US dollars:
Account number: NL92 ABNA 0529 4682 63
Account name: "Stichting The Ocean Cleanup"
Branch Location: Netherlands
Address: ABN AMRO Kneuterdijk, Postbus 19507, 2500 CM The Hague
If you have any questions about donating, please contact us through our contact form.
- We would like to donate as a US company. What is your EIN?
Thank you very much for wanting to donate to The Ocean Cleanup. Your donations can be made through the Netherland-America Foundation. Their EIN is 13-2989216. The form can also directly be found here.
- Can I get proof of my donation for a tax deduction?
Yes, please let us know if you require a donation e-certificate for tax deduction purposes. You can contact us via our contact form specifying your donation details so we can verify your donation and draft a certificate for you. Please include the following details:
- Full name
- Date of donation
- Full postal address
- Can I donate airmiles?
You can donate airmiles through Flying Blue, KLM’s and Air France’s frequent flyer program. Go to Flying Blue’s site, log in with your account and navigate to donating airmiles via the menu. You can find The Ocean Cleanup as part of a list of 14 non-profit organizations that Flying Blue has partnered with. Airmiles are highly appreciated and help to facilitate the success of the project by allowing our team to perform the necessary work we have across many borders.
- Can I donate in cryptocurrency?
Yes, we can currently accept 3 types of cryptocurrencies:
Bitcoin cash: 19xiXmMNNjWvntwTsdqoMVdbwvpfxQujQs