The Ocean Cleanup unveils first prototype

Boyan Slat and Ocean Cleanup, the Dutch foundation developing advanced technologies to rid the oceans of plastic, unveiled the North Sea prototype.


When installed, the prototype will become the first ocean cleanup system ever tested at sea. Two of The Ocean Cleanup’s main partners, the Dutch government, and world-renowned dredging and marine contractor Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V., were represented at the unveiling.

The Ocean Cleanup is a non-profit organization developing and scaling technologies to rid the oceans of plastic. To achieve this objective, they have to work on a combination of closing the source and cleaning up what has already accumulated in the ocean and doesn’t go away by itself. This goal means they plan to put theirselves out of business – once they have completed this project, their work is done.

The organization conducts scientific research into oceanic plastic pollution. It was founded in 2013 by Boyan Slat, a Dutch-born inventor-entrepreneur of Croatian and Dutch origin who serves as its CEO. It has conducted two expeditions to the North Pacific Gyre, the Mega Expedition and the Aerial Expedition, and continues to publish scientific papers. Their ocean system consists of a floating barrier at the surface of the water in the oceanic gyres, that collects marine debris as the system is pushed by wind, waves and current, and slowed down by a sea anchor. The project aims to launch a total of 60 such systems, and they predict this capability could clean up 50% of the debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in five years from full scale deployment.

In late October 2019, The Ocean Cleanup announced a new initiative, the Interceptor, to tackle the trash problem closer to the source, with plans to prevent 80% of riverine trash coming from 1000 rivers worldwide.

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