The world’s largest plastic vacuum cleaner will reduce plastic in the oceans by 90%

10 years ago, the young Dutch visionary Boyan Slat, then only 18, founded “The Ocean Cleanup”. Even then, his vision to create the world’s largest vacuum cleaner for plastic attracted a lot of attention. After years of dedicated work, the organisation has now developed the technology to capture plastic in rivers before it reaches the oceans, and remove what is already there. The aim is to put themselves out of business when the oceans are clean.

There are currently more than 150 million tonnes of plastic in the oceans, and each year it is estimated that 11 million tonnes are added to that figure. This is an increase that corresponds to more than one full lorry load every minute.

In 2018 we wrote about the Dutch teenager Boyan Slat who, at only 18 years old, created the world’s largest vacuum for plastic – as long as a football pitch – when he founded The Ocean Cleanup back in 2013. According to their calculations at that time, it would take 80,000 years to remove all the plastic. But after many years of research, development and testing, The Ocean Cleanup now has the technology to capture plastic in rivers before it even reaches the oceans. And the technology to remove the plastic that is already there.

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According to a Tweet from founder Boyan Slat on 10th July earlier this year, they have cleaned up a total of 2,500 tonnes of plastic from the Pacific Ocean. But the development of the small system continues with the aim of reducing 90% of all floating ocean plastic worldwide by 2040. The organisation hopes to achieve this aim and, in doing so, put itself out of business.

The plastic they collect is then brought back to land for recycling, and the organisation has made its own product – The Ocean Cleanup Sunglasses – to generate a small income that can be reinvested into the organisation. However, in the future, instead of making their own products, they intend to collaborate with companies that can use the plastic from the oceans in their production.

The Ocean Cleanup team currently consists of 120 engineers, researchers, calculation modellers and other supporting roles who work daily to develop more systems on a larger scale, or “vacuum cleaners”, to achieve the goal of plastic-free oceans.

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