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22-Year-Old Raises $21.7 Million to Rid Pacific Ocean of Plastic

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The Ocean Cleanup—the ambitious Dutch venture devoted to ridding the world's oceans of plasticsannounced this week that it has raised $21.7 million in donations since last November.


This latest round of funding brings The Ocean Cleanup's total funding since 2013 to $31.5 million and allows the startup to initiate large-scale trials of its cleanup technology in the Pacific Ocean later this year.

"Our mission is to rid the world's oceans of plastic, and this support is a major leap forward towards achieving this goal," Boyan Slat, the 22-year-old founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup, said. "Thanks to the generous support of these funders, the day we'll be returning that first batch of plastic to shore is now in sight."

The young inventor and entrepreneur has been widely praised for his plastic-capturing concept that involves a massive static platform and long floating barriers that passively corrals plastics with wind and ocean currents.

The Ocean Cleanup claims to be the "largest cleanup in history." The team boasts that one passive system could theoretically remove about half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 10 years.

According to the announcement, San Francisco-based philanthropists Marc and Lynne Benioff and an anonymous donor made "significant" contributions to the latest funding round. Other high-profile donors include the Julius Baer Foundation, Royal DSM and Silicon Valley entrepreneur/investor Peter Thiel.

"Lynne and I are thrilled to support The Ocean Cleanup's important goal of eliminating plastic in our oceans," said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce. "With Boyan's innovative leadership, I believe The Ocean Cleanup will have an incredibly positive impact on the future of our oceans. I hope other leaders will join us in supporting these efforts."

The Ocean Cleanup plans to launch its first experimental cleanup system in Pacific waters later this year, a step considered the "most important milestone on the road to the full-scale cleanup of the world's oceans."

More details on the project will be shared on May 11 at 2 p.m. EST at the "Werkspoorkathedraal" in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The event will also be live-streamed.

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