Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award

The Ocean Cleanup

The Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award supports five organisations that are addressing areas of significant social need through bold projects that promise lasting community benefit.

Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award funding is assisting The Ocean Cleanup – the international non-profit project with the mission of ridding the oceans of plastic – in expanding and scaling up its proven trash-capturing solutions in both oceans and rivers. In the oceans, The Ocean Cleanup is currently refining and expanding their unique cleanup system in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) and aiming to begin scaling up to a full fleet of systems to be deployed across the GPGP and the remaining four gyres. To prevent plastic emissions entering the oceans from rivers, The Ocean Cleanup has rolled out a system of InterceptorsTM in highly polluting rivers around the world to capture and extract floating riverine plastic before it can ever reach the ocean. The Ocean Cleanup intends to place Interceptors in the 1,000 most polluting rivers worldwide, which are responsible for 80 per cent of global plastic emissions into the oceans.1

$US19 billion

cost to the global economy from ocean plastic pollution1

Over 5 trillion

pieces of plastic littering our oceans1


of floating ocean plastic expected to be removed by 2040 by The Ocean Cleanup1

Rachel Engel and Susan Clear from the Macquarie Group Foundation recently teamed up with The Ocean Cleanup on a site visit to Malaysia to witness how their cutting-edge technology, the Interceptor, is being used to clean up the rivers and drive their mission to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.

Filmed in June 2022.

Research by The Ocean Cleanup shows that approximately 80 million kilograms of floating plastic debris and over 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic are distributed across the GPGP, located between California and Hawaii and covering an area three times the size of France.2 The GPGP is the largest accumulation of floating ocean garbage in the world.

The Ocean Cleanup has also established that 1,000 of the world’s rivers are responsible for roughly 80 per cent of riverine garbage entering the oceans. Cutting these emissions is the fastest and most efficient way to achieve impactful change and make ridding the ocean of plastic a reality.3

In this video, hear from Dan van der Kooy, Senior Video Producer for The Ocean Cleanup as he captures the largest ocean clean up currently taking place around the world, and explains how the Interceptor, a 100% solar-powered autonomous machine, is helping.

Filmed in March 2021.

The Ocean Cleanup has developed a range of solutions to capture and extract riverine waste, ranging from their autonomous and solar-powered Interceptor Original (now in its third iteration) to an array of solutions designed for varied river conditions: so far, the Interceptor Barrier, Interceptor Tender, Interceptor Barricade and Interceptor Guard are all deployed or being trialled in highly-polluting rivers around the world.

The Ocean Cleanup aims to remove 50 per cent of the GPGP every five years. Its longer-term goal is to rid all oceans of 90 per cent of floating plastic by 2040 and to tackle the world’s 1,000 most polluting rivers five years from rollout.

Project updates

The Ocean Cleanup's System 03 brought a record haul of plastic to shore, returning back to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch for another season starting in February 2024. Since 2019, a total of 389,350 kilograms of plastic has now been removed from the Patch.  

In March 2024, Interceptor 019 in Bangkok became the latest addition to the Rivers portfolio (technology solutions that intercept plastics in rivers before it reaches the ocean), while the very first Interceptor in Indonesia celebrated its five-year anniversary. To date, Interceptors have removed over 12 million kilograms of trash, working with local communities and stakeholders to prevent this rubbish from reaching the Ocean.

In early 2023, a new fundraising platform was launched, making it easier than ever for people to get involved and support the Ocean Cleanup to help rid the oceans of plastic.

In FY2023, The Ocean Cleanup conducted eight trips into the GPGP, removing 153,000 kilos of plastic from the ocean. This year also started the phased scale up of ocean System 002 to System 03 – a larger system capable of collecting much greater volumes of plastic.4

New Interceptor deployments or trials were launched in Guatemala and Jamaica; across the seven countries where the Interceptors are in place (with more deployments scheduled for late 2023), which prevented more than 1,800 megatonnes of trash from reaching the ocean. The Ocean Cleanup also sold out their stock of The Ocean Cleanup Sunglasses – made with plastic extracted directly from the GPGP and raising sufficient funds to clean up over 500,000 football fields’ worth of ocean.1

In FY2022, the Ocean Cleanup made substantial progress in their mission to rid the world’s oceans and rivers of plastic, pioneering ground-breaking research, reaching proof of technology with their latest ocean system (System 002), and deploying new Interceptor solutions that prevent plastic from entering the ocean from rivers in Dominican Republic, Malaysia, Jamaica and Vietnam.1

In FY2021, the Ocean Cleanup successfully deployed Interceptor 004 to capture plastic in the Rio Ozama, Dominican Republic, stemming the flow of plastic before it reaches the Caribbean Sea.1

Vision for the future

The Ocean Cleanup are on a mission to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. 

"Plastic continues to destroy ecosystems and economies, with damaging effects on human health on a potentially huge scale. With billions of people dependent on seafood around the world for survival and livelihoods, we cannot allow this urgent plastic crisis to worsen any longer. The Ocean Cleanup was created to develop the tools for humanity to solve this problem, and we will not give up until the job is done."

Boyan Slat, CEO and Founder, The Ocean Cleanup

  1. Data points on this page were provided by The Ocean Cleanup as at August 2023.
  2. Laurent Lebreton, 'The exponential increase of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch', The Ocean Cleanup, 22 March 2018,
  3. 'The Ocean Cleanup unveils plan to address the main source of ocean plastic pollution: rivers', The Ocean Cleanup, 26 October 2019,
  4. 'Scale-up in oceans', The Ocean Cleanup,