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Boyan Slat

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Boyan Slat
Slat in 2018
Born (1994-07-27) 27 July 1994 (age 29)[1]
Delft, Netherlands
Occupation(s)Inventor, entrepreneur
Known forThe Ocean Cleanup
AwardsThiel Fellowship

Boyan Slat (born 27 July 1994)[2][3] is a Dutch inventor and entrepreneur.[4] A former aerospace engineering student,[5][6] he is the CEO of The Ocean Cleanup.[7]

Initial interest in plastic pollution[edit]

In 2011, Slat went diving and found that the amount of plastic surpassed the number of fish in the area he explored. He made ocean plastic pollution the subject of a high school project examining why it was considered impossible to clean up. He later came up with the idea of building a passive plastic catchment system, using circulating ocean currents to net plastic waste, which he presented at a TEDx talk in Delft in 2012.[8][9]

Slat discontinued his aerospace engineering studies at TU Delft to devote his time to developing his idea. He founded The Ocean Cleanup in 2013, and shortly after, his TEDx talk went viral after being shared on several news sites.[8]

"Technology is the most potent agent of change. It is an amplifier of our human capabilities", Slat wrote in The Economist. "Whereas other change-agents rely on reshuffling the existing building blocks of society, technological innovation creates entirely new ones, expanding our problem-solving toolbox."[10]

The Ocean Cleanup[edit]

In 2013 Slat founded the non-profit The Ocean Cleanup, of which he serves as the CEO.[7] The group's mission is to develop advanced technologies to rid the world's oceans of plastic.[11] It raised US$2.2 million through a crowd funding campaign with the help of 38,000 donors from 160 countries.[12] In June 2014, the Ocean Cleanup published a 528-page feasibility study[13] about the project's potential. Some declared the concept unfeasible in a technical critique[14][15][16] of the feasibility study on the Deep Sea News website, which was cited by other publications, including Popular Science[17] and The Guardian.[18]

Since the Ocean Cleanup started, the organization has raised tens of millions of dollars in donations from entrepreneurs in Europe and in Silicon Valley, including Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.[19][20]

Cleanup systems[edit]

The first and second systems, dubbed Systems 001 and 001/B respectively, encountered various technical failures. System 001 was unable to effectively retain plastic and suffered structural stress damage that caused an 18-meter section to break off at one point. However, in 2019, System 001/B, which was a redesign of System 001, successfully captured plastic. This first mission (which includes both systems) returned 60 bags of garbage.[21]

In July 2021, System 002, an updated version, gathered 9,000 kilograms (20,000 lb) of trash.[22]

The Interceptor[edit]

Interceptor 007 in Los Angeles, California.

At an unveiling of a new cleanup system dubbed The Interceptor,[23] Slat cited research from the company which showed that 1,000 of the world's most polluted rivers were responsible for roughly 80% of the world's plastic pollution. In an effort to "close the tap" and drastically reduce the amount of plastic entering the world's oceans, The Ocean Cleanup had devised a barge-like system that was completely solar powered and was aimed to be a scalable solution that could be deployed around the world's rivers. As of mid 2022, their interceptors have been deployed in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Dominican Republic, and Vietnam, and are prepared to be deployed in Thailand and Los Angeles, California.[24]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Born in the Netherlands, Slat is of Croatian descent through his father.[33]


  1. ^ "Boyan Slat website". 8 December 2014. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  2. ^ Finger, Tobias (24 June 2014). "The Ocean – Dieser Student will die Weltmeere Plastikmüll befreie" [The Ocean: This student wants to rid the seas of plastic waste]. Umwelt [environment] (in German). WiWo Green. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  3. ^ Winter, Caroline (16 September 2014). "This Dutch Guy Now Has the Funds to Build His Ocean Cleanup Machine". Bloomberg Businessweek. Archived from the original on 17 September 2014.
  4. ^ Boyan, Slat (20 October 2019). "Researchgate". Researchgate.
  5. ^ Pabst, Josephine (24 October 2014). "Idee eines 20-Jährigen könnte die Ozeane entmüllen". Die Welt (in German).
  6. ^ "Boyan Slat". 8 December 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  7. ^ a b "About". The Ocean. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  8. ^ a b "How it all began". The Ocean Cleanup. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  9. ^ "How the oceans can clean themselves: Boyan Slat at TEDxDelft". YouTube. 24 October 2014. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  10. ^ Slat, Boyan. "The Economist". The Economist.
  11. ^ "About". The Ocean Cleanup. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  12. ^ "Crowd Funding Campaign". The Ocean Cleanup. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  13. ^ Slat, Boyan (June 2014), How the oceans can clean themselves: a feasibility study (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on 23 April 2018, retrieved 24 February 2018 This is version 2.0 of the study. It states (p. 9) that version 1.0 is available on request.
  14. ^ McClain, Craig (6 January 2019). "The Continued Boondoggle of the Ocean Cleanup". DeepSeaNews. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  15. ^ Martini, Kim; Goldstein, Miriam (14 July 2014), The Ocean Cleanup, Part 2: Technical review of the feasibility study
  16. ^ Ben, Guarino (17 January 2019). "Experts warned this floating garbage collector wouldn't work. The ocean proved them right". The Washington Post.
  17. ^ Gertz, Emily (16 July 2014), Does 'The Ocean Cleanup' Stand Up To Peer Review?, Popular Science
  18. ^ Kratochwill, Lindsey (26 March 2016), "Too good to be true? The Ocean Cleanup Project faces feasibility questions", The Guardian
  19. ^ a b Caminiti, Susan (22 April 2017). "Why Peter Thiel believes in this 22-year-old's dream to clean up the oceans". CNBC. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  20. ^ "The Ocean Cleanup Raises 21.7 Million USD in Donations to Start Pacific Cleanup Trials". The Ocean Cleanup. Archived from the original on 2 June 2017. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  21. ^ Bendix, Aria (12 December 2019). "A device invented by a 25-year-old is finally catching trash in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It hauled 60 bags to shore to turn into new products". Retrieved 24 December 2019.
  22. ^ Cohen, Li (16 October 2021). "Nearly 20,000 pounds of trash removed from one of the biggest accumulations of ocean plastic in the world". CBS News. Archived from the original on 16 October 2021. Retrieved 19 October 2021.
  23. ^ Boyan Slat unveils the Interceptor River Cleanup system | Cleaning Rivers | The Ocean Cleanup, retrieved 7 June 2020
  24. ^ "The Ocean Cleanup Dashboard". www.theoceancleanup.com.
  25. ^ "Boyan Slat - Inspiration and action". 2014 Laureates. United Nations Environment Programme. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  26. ^ "UN Champions of the Earth 2014". 19 November 2014.
  27. ^ "Young Entrepreneur Award 2017". www.youngship.com. Archived from the original on 6 August 2017. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  28. ^ "30 Under 30 2016 Europe: Science and Healthcare". Forbes. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  29. ^ "European of the Year: Boyan Slat Wants to Clean Up the Oceans". Reader's Digest. 31 January 2017. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  30. ^ "Dit is de Nederlander van het Jaar 2017 - Elsevierweekblad.nl". Elsevierweekblad.nl (in Dutch). 6 December 2017. Retrieved 25 May 2018.[permanent dead link]
  31. ^ "European Leadership Awards: meet the winners". euronews. 23 May 2018. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  32. ^ "PMI Future 50". PMI. 2020. Retrieved 7 October 2023.
  33. ^ Speksnijder, Cor (24 December 2015). "'In de geschiedenis zijn meer dingen wél gelukt dan niet'". de Volkskrant (in Dutch). Retrieved 4 March 2024.

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