15 July 2013, USG Engineering Professionals in the Netherlands signed a
partnership agreement with The Ocean Cleanup Foundation. The Ocean Cleanup
came up with a method to extract seven billion kilograms of plastic from the
oceans in just five years. USG Engineering Professionals will provide project
management staffing for the feasibility study the foundation is currently
‘The goal of The Ocean Cleanup and the method with which they aim to remove
plastic waste from the oceans, are both highly appealing to us,’ says USG
Engineering Professionals’ General Manager Bart Monster. Sustainability,
technology, innovation and creativity are signature features that both parties
have in common.
The Ocean Cleanup
The founder of The Ocean Cleanup is Boyan Slat, an Aerospace Engineering
student at the Delft
Technology. He came up with the idea for a recycling station that, within five
years, will be able to extract seven billion kilograms of plastic from the
oceans. The results of the feasibility study, which is currently underway,
will decide whether or not Slat’s plans will continue to be implemented and
The idea is to place stationary floating recycling stations in the ocean. The
ocean currents will transport the debris in the direction of the stations.
Long, floating booms act as giant funnels that will catch the debris but no
fish and other marine life. The angle of the booms and the surface current
then force the plastic in the direction of the platforms, where the debris is
stored in containers until collected for recycling on land.
The Ocean Cleanup Array will be highly energy efficient because most work is
done by the ocean currents, and the platforms will receive additional energy
from the sun and waves. Not all plastic in the oceans can be extracted this
way, but it is estimated that approximately one third of global ocean surfaces
plastic pollution can be cleaned up: this adds up to over seven billion
Slat proposed the cleanup project and supporting system in 2012. In October, Slat outlined the project in a TED-talk.
The organization conducts scientific research into oceanic plastic pollution. It was founded in 2013 by Boyan Slat, a Dutch-born inventor-entrepreneur of Croatian origin who serves as its CEO.
The initial design consisted of long, floating barriers fixed to the seabed, attached to a central platform shaped like a manta ray for stability. The barriers would direct the floating plastic to the central platform, which would remove the plastic from the water. Slat did not specify the dimensions of this system in the talk.
The Ocean Cleanup is non-government engineering environmental organization based in Netherlands, that develops technology to extract plastic pollution from the oceans.
Slat is not alone in the fight against ocean plastic. These
emerging technologies could all play a part in
containing the mountain of plastic that is accumulating on the oceans
floors, by recovering floating debris before it sinks. New ideas are
HISTORY 2012 - 2020
- TED Talk
- Company Formation
- Concept Revisions
- Scale Model Tests
- North Sea Trial
- Pipe Size Reduction
- Wilson & Scale Test
- Sea Trials Pacific
- The Future
to end Plastic Waste
Slat's ocean booms
4Ocean recycled plastic bracelets
Luna graphic novel
Ocean Waste Plastic
SeaVax autonomous drones
World Oceans Day
The floating boom systems are designed to capture plastics ranging from small pieces just millimeters in size, up to large debris, including massive discarded fishing nets (ghost nets), which can be tens of meters wide.
Models show that a full-scale cleanup system roll-out (a fleet of approximately 60 systems) could clean 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in just five years.
After fleets of systems are deployed into every ocean gyre, combined with source reduction, The Ocean Cleanup projects to be able to remove 90% of ocean plastic by 2040.
The system consists of a 600-meter-long floater that sits at the surface of the water and a tapered 3-meter-deep skirt attached below. The boom floater provides buoyancy to the system and prevents plastic from flowing over it, while the skirt stops debris from escaping underneath.
Both the plastic and system are being carried by the currents. However, wind and waves propel only the system, as the floater sits just above the water surface, while the plastic is primarily just beneath it. The system thus moves faster than the plastic, allowing the plastic to be captured.
It's a giant version of fishing nets as used for centuries by fishermen. A secondary net and modified fishing vessels then capture and land the plastic on a vessel where it is transported to land for recycling.