When it comes to keeping the ocean clean, nonprofit organizations need all the help they can get. That’s why the co-founder of Airbnb.org donated $25 million. He wanted to provide help and support to the Dutch nonprofit The Ocean Cleanup. Right now, they’re in the process of assembling and deploying the largest plastic capture system ever developed to be used in the seas.
The Ocean Cleanup’s pilot-scale ocean cleaning system is called System 002. This has been deployed in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP), an area found between Hawai’i and California since the late 2021. Right now, the system had successfully taken out almost 200,000 kilograms, or roughly 440,000 pounds, of plastic. Without it, the trash would have been there for decades.
This pilot system that was recently deployed is now in the process of being scaled up to the largest, most cost-effective ocean cleaning system that has ever been developed. The system comes with a capture area of 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) across, and a three-vessel team will be there to operate it 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
“I’m proud to partner with The Ocean Cleanup in their crucial work to remove harmful plastics from our oceans,” said Joe Gebbia. He is the co-founder of Airbnb and Samara. “The Ocean Cleanup has created systems and technology that actually work at scale. In order for them to deploy across our oceans and rivers, they now need to scale their funding. It is my hope that this donation can inspire others to act.”
Right now, they are the only group there cleaning the trillions of plastic pieces in the GPGP. In order to pull this off, The Ocean Cleanup has streamlined their cleaning systems so that they are cost-effective. This will enable them to stretch the donations as far as possible.
The man behind it all is Dutch whiz kid and Ocean Cleanup founder Boyan Slat. He has been working on this capture system and developing it for more than ten years. The system was slowly enlarged and fine-tuned. He based the design on the fieldwork harvesting plastic from the GPGP. System 03 has the capacity to clean the ocean ten times faster than the previous model. With enough support, he would have the capability of cleaning all the plastic patches of the world’s oceans with only about 10 to 50 of these systems.
“Joe’s continued support of The Ocean Cleanup’s mission has a direct impact on our operations all over the world,” Slat said. “Thanks, in part, to his generous assistance, we are able to scale up our work in oceans and rivers, helping us reach our goal of ridding the world’s oceans of plastic. On behalf of the world’s largest ecosystem, we are immensely grateful for the support.”
Slat’s work in the GPGP will be considered one of the greatest works that has been accomplished in the 21st century. Before him, there was a real and overwhelming problem. There was a patch of plastic trash that was two times bigger than Texas and was swirling in International Waters. No one knew how to handle the problem and he was brave enough to take it on.
Slat had depended on his team. He had a vision which was based on basic scientific deduction and elegant engineering solutions. He was able to show everyone that even the most difficult and complicated problems had solutions.
Slat’s vision got the attention of millions in private contributions. These call came from philanthropists such as Gebbia. They bought into his vision even when government scientists mocked at his use of fossil-fuel vessels that were going to be pulling the nets to collect the plastic waste.
Video source: https://youtu.be/fq0YkhXKIKw
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