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.

$US19 billion

Cost to the global economy from ocean plastic pollution

1.8 trillion

Pieces of plastic currently floating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

90%

of plastic in the ocean expected to be removed by 2040 as part of this initiative

Research by The Ocean Cleanup shows that approximately 80 million kilograms of floating plastic debris and 1.8 trillion pieces of microplastic are distributed across the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP). This is an area that’s three times the size of France, located between California and Hawaii, and the largest accumulation of ocean garbage in the world.

The Ocean Cleanup has also established that 1,000 of the world’s rivers are responsible for roughly 80 percent of riverine garbage entering the oceans.

The organisation is developing technological solutions to rid our world’s oceans of plastic by not only cleaning up existing waste, but preventing new plastic from entering the ocean. One is a passive ocean cleanup system to remove existing plastic pollution; and the second is the Interceptor™, a river system that intercepts plastic from rivers before it enters the ocean.

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.

"Plastic continues to destroy ecosystems and economies, and has potentially damaging effects on human health on a big scale. More than three billion people rely on fish as their primary source of protein and tipping plastic into the ocean ends up in the food chain, with associated health consequences. We started The Ocean Cleanup to develop the tools for humanity to be able to solve this problem."

- Boyan Slat, CEO and Founder, The Ocean Cleanup

"The Ocean Cleanup is a bold idea to confront the significant challenge of restoring our ocean ecosystem. This is a unique opportunity to profoundly impact our environment, pursuing an ambitious solution to remove plastic waste from our oceans with significant benefits for wildlife, the food chain and community health."

- Mary Reemst, Chair, Macquarie Group Foundation

Funding outcomes

The award will accelerate the critical development phase of the technology. Once the design of the ocean technology is proven, The Ocean Cleanup can begin its scale‑up to a full fleet of systems to be deployed across the GPGP and the remaining four gyres; all while they continue to move forward with tackling the top 1,000 most polluting rivers responsible for 80% of the plastic outflow.