Blue Activism

The Ocean Cleanup raised $31.5 million

by Elisa Routa


I believe The Ocean Cleanup will have an incredibly positive impact on the future of our oceans.


Over 5 trillion pieces of plastic currently litter the ocean. Earlier last month, The Ocean Cleanup raised 21,7$ millions in donations, bringing their total funding since 2013 to $31.5 million, to start Pacific cleanup trials and rid the oceans of plastic. 



Founded in 2013 by a 18-years-old genius named Boyan Slat, the Dutch foundation develops advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. « The Ocean Cleanup is developing a network of long floating barriers that act like an artificial coastline, enabling the natural ocean currents to concentrate the plastic, » explains the founder and CEO of the Ocean Cleanup. « Besides, The Ocean Cleanup designs processes to turn recovered ocean plastic into valuable raw materials. » Instead of going after plastic debris with vessels and nets, the Ocean Cleanup uses the ocean currents to catch the plastic. 


In May, the foundation announced it had successfully raised 21.7 million USD in donations. Donors include Silicon Valley philanthropists Marc & Lynne Benioff, as well as Peter Thiel, PayPal founder who then became the first outside investor in Facebook and anonymous investors, allowing The Ocean Cleanup to launch its first experimental cleanup system in Pacific waters by late 2017. «Our mission is to rid the world’s oceans of plastic, and this support is a major leap forward towards achieving this goal, » says Boyan Slat. « Thanks to the generous support of these funders, the day we’ll be returning that first batch of plastic to shore is now in sight. »



"Lynne and I are thrilled to support The Ocean Cleanup's important goal of eliminating plastic in our oceans," said San Francisco-based donator Marc Benioff.  « With Boyan's innovative leadership, I believe The Ocean Cleanup will have an incredibly positive impact on the future of our oceans. I hope other leaders will join us in supporting these efforts." 


However, despite the enthusiasm of the foundation’ supporters, a wide range of experts in marine plastics say it’s a bad idea, considering Ocean Cleanup « fundamentally misunderstands Marine Plastics and causes harm ». Despite the good intentions, the 2 kilometer floating network acting like an artificial coastline is victim of some technical critiques and raises some biological, ecological, and social concerns. « Technological fixes like the Array do harm to the larger project of ending plastic pollution, which is a complex social, environmental, and economic problem, » says scholar, activist, and artist Max Liboiron. « It is also going to damage and kill marine life. »


As one of the most polluted areas of the ocean, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, between Hawaii and California, will be the place for The Ocean Cleanup's first experimental cleanup system by late 2017.



Learn more about The Ocean Cleanup.

Share this article