on 7 Feb 2023
The funds will help support the launch of the non-profit's latest ocean-cleaning system in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
The Ocean Cleanup — an international non-profit project developing and scaling technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic — has revealed its largest private donation to date.
Joe Gebbia, co-founder of Airbnb and Samara and chairman of Airbnb.org, has pledged a US$25 million gift to The Ocean Cleanup, which says it will use these funds to continue and expand its operations across oceans, rivers, recycling, and scientific research — and, in particular, to support the launch of System 03, the latest iteration of its ocean cleaning system, in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch later this year.
“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,” said Boyan Slat, founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup. “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.”
The Ocean Cleanup develops and scales technologies to rid the oceans of plastic. To do this, the organisation employs a dual strategy: cleaning up the existing legacy plastic floating in the ocean while also addressing new emissions of plastic flowing into the ocean from rivers, using a portfolio of Interceptor Solutions.
The Ocean Cleanup’s pilot-scale ocean cleaning system, System 002, has been deployed in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (located between Hawaii and California, and consisting of up to 100,000,000kg of plastic) since late 2021. It has so far removed close to 200,000kg of plastic that otherwise would have remained trapped for decades or more.
In rivers, The Ocean Cleanup aims to engage preventive measures to “close the tap” by intercepting additional plastic downstream before it can reach the ocean. Its Interceptor Solutions are currently deployed or trialling in eight countries around the world — the most recent deployments began operations in Los Angeles County (USA) and Kingston (Jamaica) in November and December 2022, respectively. So far, the organisation’s solutions have intercepted over 2 million kg of trash in rivers, keeping it out of our oceans for good.
“I’m proud to partner with The Ocean Cleanup in their crucial work to remove harmful plastics from our oceans,” shared Gebbia. “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.”
Gebbia’s use of design to solve problems led to the creation of Airbnb and Samara, and Airbnb.org, his non-profit brainchild that provides housing to people in crisis.
Gebbia continues to give back to causes that improve the quality of life for people and the planet. He serves on the board of Refuge Olympic Foundation, and the leadership councils for the Tent Partnership for Refugees and the UNHCR. This contribution expands on his giving to now include climate health.