Rotterdam's Ocean Cleanup has lured $25 million (€23.2 million) courtesy of a follow-on donation by Airbnb and Samara co-founder Joe Gebbia.
Ocean Cleanup was founded in 2013 by Boyan Slat in a bid to remove more plastic materials from oceans around the world.
The non-profit aims to remove lingering waste that entered the ocean long ago, as well as attempting to stop additional plastics entering our waters.
It has achieved this by developing a novel sea vessel to congregate stubborn waste plastics. Ocean Cleanup's vessel was designed to function as if it were an artificial shoreline, dragging plastic waste into its orbit so it can be extracted by human crew members.
The clean up operation targets large aggregations of ocean plastics —known as garbage patches— where strong ocean currents have trapped the waste in a perpetual vortex.
Once plastics have been removed, Ocean Cleanup uses further tech to monitor the new lifecycle of each object.
Despite global efforts to reduce plastic consumption or recycle plastic materials, the UN believes ocean plastic pollution could increase more than two-fold by 2030.
Ocean Cleanup is hoping to reverse this trend. By 2040, ten years after the UN's prediction, it aims to have removed 90% of plastics on the ocean's surface.
One of its systems, System 002, is currently being trialled in ocean waters between Hawaii and California, in an area known as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch." So far, Ocean Cleanup has removed almost 200,000 kg of plastic with this machine.
Ocean Cleanup also operates a fleet of modestly-sized vessels, dubbed Interceptor Solutions, currently active in eight sovereign waters.
Equipped with Gebbia's donation, Ocean Cleanup plans to invest in the most recent iteration of its technology, System 003, set to begin clearing additional waste in the Pacific garbage patch later this year.
Boyan Slat, who serves as the non-profit's CEO, said: "As a non-profit project with a big mission, we cannot do it alone – we need financial contributions to achieve our objectives.
"Joe’s continued support of The Ocean Cleanup’s mission has a direct impact on our operations all over the world.”
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