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How Maersk and Ocean Cleanup are Expanding Plastic Reduction Mission

A.P. Moller-Maersk and The Ocean Cleanup have extended and expanded their relationship with a new three-year partnership.

The Ocean Cleanup’s mission is to develop advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. To achieve this goal, it aims to stop the inflow from rivers and clean up what has already accumulated in the ocean. Its ultimate goal is reaching a 90 percent reduction of floating ocean plastic by 2040.

Maersk said as a responsible maritime operator, it is committed to ensuring that the oceans can remain a healthy environment for generations to come. That’s behind the action to broaden the partnership agreement initiated back in 2018.

“Besides Maersk Supply Service support with vessel operations and offshore project management, Maersk will now support The Ocean Cleanup with logistics end-to-end handling services, ranging from worldwide shipment from different locations to airfreight, container and special transport, customs clearance and warehouse and storage management,” Mette Refshauge, vice president of corporate communications and sustainability at Maersk, said.

“We will have a transport and supply chain manager fully embedded in The Ocean Cleanup’s office in Rotterdam,” Refshauge added. “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 its own supply chain management capacity over time.”

As part of the partnership agreement, Maersk will also assist The Ocean Cleanup in deploying scientific sensor technology aboard Maersk’s own fleet to map plastic floating in the oceans and help the organization have a better understanding of the severity of the problem they are working to solve.

“What better way to map the oceans than to harness one of the world’s largest fleets?” asked Robin Townley, head of special project logistics at Maersk.

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Lonneke Holierhoek, director of science and operations at The Ocean Cleanup, said Maersk’s support over the past three years has been invaluable to furthering Ocean Cleanup’s mission. Holierhoek said strengthening end-to-end logistics service “will not only help us clean more plastic from the ocean, but it will help us to effectively deploy more Interceptors river cleaning systems and develop our next products made of certified plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.”

In 2019, Ocean Cleanup launched the Interceptor to extract plastic in rivers before reaching the ocean. Founded in 2013 by Boyan Slat, The Ocean Cleanup now employs approximately 95 engineers and researchers. The Dutch foundation is headquartered in Rotterdam.

National Geographic defines the Great Pacific Garbage Patch as a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean. Also known as the Pacific trash vortex, it spans waters from the West Coast of North America to Japan.