On September 8, 2018, we launched the world’s first ocean cleanup system, from San Francisco Bay, heading toward the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch, to commence the cleanup. We are looking forward to bringing the first plastic ashore as soon as possible, and no later than early 2019. By accomplishing this, we will have proven the technology concept of The Ocean Cleanup.

Although we work with extensive computer models and have used multiple scale models to predict the plastic capturing efficiency of the cleanup, these calculations and experimental data have inherent uncertainty. The only way to confirm the system’s efficiency is by testing it at full scale under real circumstances on the high seas. We aim to confirm the system’s ability to efficiently catch and retain plastic within the first months of operation in the patch. We will monitor System 001’s capture efficiency closely, both with the help of human observations as well as by an autonomous unmanned vessel providing underwater footage. All insights collected from our experience with System 001 (in assembly, design and operations) will be fed into the development of System 002.

Once System 001 has collected a sufficient quantity (think: several tons) of plastic, we will return the first plastic to land for processing. Our objective is to valorize as much of the harvest as technically – and commercially – possible. We aim for ‘zero waste’ operations, with no debris to end up in a landfill. Our recycling operations will be based on partnerships with existing recycling companies who have capacity to process the material or are willing to invest in our mission.

Sunglasses made from plastic extracted during the Mega Expedition

While System 001 is intended to prove the technology, System 002 will build on the lessons of System 001 and prepares the design for full-scale roll-out and serial production of the fleet. Once we have deployed the full fleet of 60 systems by 2020, we expect to remove 50% of the plastic waste in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch every 5 years and come to a 90% reduction by 2040.

Corporations are already welcome to express their interest in being part of the largest cleanup in history. If your company wants to be part of the scale-up of our cleanup, either financially, or through the donation of products or services, please contact us to discuss a potential collaboration opportunity.