ocean cleanup project

Ocean Cleanup Project's System 001 during sea trials off the coast of California with the Maersk Launcher. Photo: Ocean Cleanup Project

Maersk Extends Partnership to Help Cleanup Plastic Pollution at Sea

Mike Schuler
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January 14, 2021

Maersk and the Dutch non-profit The Ocean Cleanup are extending their partnership to rid the world’s ocean of plastic pollution.

Founded in 2013, The Ocean Cleanup’s mission is to develop and advance technologies to cleanup plastic pollution at sea and also stop the inflow via rivers. Over the last several years the company has been developing a large-scale system that essentially concentrates floating plastic for removal. The company then uses the plastic to create products that help raise funds for its efforts. It now employs a team of 95 engineers and researchers.

In 2018, Maersk Supply Service signed on to help support the first deployment of the system The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the world’s largest accumulation zone of ocean plastics, some 1,200 miles off the coast of California. Later that year the AHTS Maersk Launcher towed the system from San Francisco. Although that first deployment revealed some issues with the system, engineers have worked to refine the system and also introduced “Interceptors”, which can be stationed at the mouths of rivers to prevent plastic pollution from entering the sea.

The company continues to aim for the removal of 90% of ocean plastic by 2040.

“As a responsible maritime operator, we are committed to ensuring that the oceans can remain a healthy environment for generations to come,” said Mette Refshauge, VP of Corporate Communications & Sustainability at Maersk. “We are therefore very pleased to not just prolong but broaden the partnership agreement initiated back in 2018.”

Under the new agreement, Maersk will not only support with vessel operations and offshore project management, but also logistics end-to-end handling services, ranging from worldwide shipment from different locations to airfreight, container & special transport, customs clearance and warehouse and storage management.

“We will have a transport & supply chain manager fully embedded in The Ocean Cleanup´s office in Rotterdam. That program manager will serve as the single channel for them to engage with the full range of Maersk’s supply chain and transport services globally and will help The Ocean Cleanup to develop their own supply chain management capacity over time,” adds Mette.

As part of the partnership agreement, Maersk will also assist in deploying scientific sensor technology aboard Maersk’s own fleet to map plastic floating in the oceans in order to provide a better understanding of the issue.

“What better way to map the oceans than to harness one of the world’s largest fleets?” said Robin Townley, Head of Special Project Logistics at Maersk.

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