22-year-old’s ocean cleanup project receives $21.7 million, will launch this year

The foundation can now begin large-scale trials of passive plastic capturing technology in the Pacific Ocean.

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Remember Boyan Slat, the ambitious teenager who founded the Ocean Array Plan, a project capable of removing 7,250,000 tons of plastic from the world’s oceans? Now twenty-two-years-old, Slat is still dedicated to the endeavor, as well is the CEO of The Ocean Cleanup. Yesterday, the foundation announced that it has raised $21.7 million and can now begin large-scale trials of passive plastic capturing technology in the Pacific Ocean.

On its website, the Ocean Cleanup claims that its technology “…could remove about half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 10 years, at a fraction of the cost.” This is incredible, considering the gargantuan patch floating in the ocean is presently 2x the size of Texas. The startup’s strategy for meeting its goal is to make use of the ocean’s natural tides and currents to purge the body of water of polluting plastic.

Last year, The Ocean Cleanup reached an important milestone when it tested a 100-meter-long segment of the barrier for four months in the North Sea – about 14 miles off the coast of the Netherlands. Slat commented that the purpose was to see how the barrier fared in open ocean water. Its durability during strong storms and turbulent waves was also being tested.

“We released a bit of plastic in front of the barrier to see how it did, but the real purpose was to see how the system did in the ocean,” Slat explained.

Image credit: The Ocean Cleanup

With $21.7 million received in funding, the cutting edge technology is expected to be launched in the Pacific later this year. 

After The Ocean Ocean cleanup received its official start in 2013, Slat raised $2.2 million through a crowdfunding campaign which included 38,000 donors from 160 countries. Over the past two years, he has raised another $10 million in cash donations from entrepreneurs. Investors include Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne, as well as Silicon Valley entrepreneur and sometime Trump adviser Peter Thiel. Today, The Ocean Cleanup has 65 full-time employees and a scientific advisory board.

Image credit: Hip Daily

Slat dropped out of college in the first year due to being fiercely passionate about the passive ocean cleaning technology. According to CNBC, he figured he could always re-enroll in college if the venture didn’t turn out. As one can witness, both he and the vision are thriving. The inventor has been inspired to “think big,” and because of his unconventional attitude, can be credited with developing the first ocean cleanup system.

“There is this notion … in the environmental scene that every little bit helps, or ‘Think global, act local.’ I disagree with that. I think you have to start with how big the solution needs to be to solve the problem and then reason backward from there,” stated Slat.The Ocean Cleanup, Boyan SlateThe 


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