Since 2013, Boyan Slat has been working on his dream to rid the Pacific Ocean of the large amounts of waste plastic floating around. During that time, the 24-year-old Dutch TU Delft student has become world famous with his initiative The Ocean Cleanup that tackles the so-called ‘plastic soup’. ‘The largest cleanup in history’ is what the team calls the operation.
The cleaning system consists of a 600-meter-long tube that floats on the water. Below it is a tapered, three-meter long ’skirt’. The floater not only ensures the buoyancy of the system, but at the same time prevents plastic from flowing over it, while the skirt prevents the (plastic) waste from escaping underneath. Both the plastic waste and the system are propelled by the ocean current, but the wind and waves only drive the system, because the float is just above the water surface, while the plastic is mainly just below it.
The system therefore moves faster than the plastic, allowing the plastic to be caught. With this method – according to The Ocean Cleanup, fifty percent of the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ could be cleaned every five years.
A history with BMW i
September 8, 2018 was the official launch of ‘System 001’ in San Francisco. A tugboat pulled the ingenious floating device under the Golden Gate to the open sea marking the start of the cleanup operation. The system went on its way to a stopover, some 600 kilometers off the coast. After a trial period of two weeks, it continues its journey to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, some 1,500 kilometers further, to start the Cleanup.
During the event in San Francisco, the team was supplied with a fully electric BMW i3. In the Netherlands, in September, three BMW i3s models have also been delivered at the new head office of The Ocean Cleanup in Rotterdam to provide 100 percent electric mobility for Boyan Slat and his team for the coming 12 months. The delivery of the vehicles to the Rotterdam office, builds on a longer cooperation that started in 2017 when three BMW i3’s were provided to the mobility mix for the event during which Slat and his team made the grand announcement to start the operation as soon as 2018.
BMW i and The Ocean Cleanup.
For The Ocean Cleanup it is important that their company cars suit the philosophy of the organization, and the fully electrical BMW i3 fits that bill completely.
“At BMW i as an incubator for innovations we also keep pushing the boundaries of sustainability, even beyond the car”, says Dr. Robert Irlinger, head of BMW i. “We are delighted to support The Ocean Cleanup on their mission, because we share the same mindset.” Awarded as the world’s most sustainable car manufacturer (1), BMW Group, in turn, sees the need to address the global challenge of plastic pollution, even though the company is not at the root of it. At the same time, BMW i continuously strives to maximize the use of recyclates and re-growing materials in their products. In the wider context of a circular economy BMW i is considering the use of recovered plastic from rivers and oceans.
BMW i3 up to 95% recyclable.
In addition to the fact that the entire production chain of the BMW i3 is supplied with green energy, the car can be recycled up to 95%. This way the BMW i3 has been awarded multiple times as benchmark within sustainable car concepts.2) Furthermore, the extensive use of re-growing or recycled materials for e.g. the door cladding and the seats demonstrate the BMW i commitment for an advanced circular economy.
(1) DowJones Sustainability Index, several years from 1999 on
(2) World Green Car, Green Car Of The Year, Ökotrend, ADAC EcoTest, etc.
About BMW i
BMW i as a BMW Group brand is focusing on visionary vehicle concepts, connected mobility services and a new understanding of premium which is strongly defined by sustainability. BMW i is represented in 74 countries with the BMW i3 electric car for urban areas, the BMW i8 plug-in-hybrid sports car and plug-in hybrid BMW iPerformance Automobiles.
BMW i opens up new target groups for the company and serves as an incubator for innovations. Technologies which have debuted successfully in BMW i cars are carried over to parent brand BMW model lines.
BMW i is associated with DriveNow (car sharing), ReachNow (car sharing 2.0), ChargeNow (easy access to the world’s largest network of charging points), ParkNow (straightforward location, reservation and payment of parking spaces), the venture capital company BMW i Ventures (investments in start-up companies with a focus on e.g. urban mobility), BMW Energy Services and the Centre of Competence for Urban Mobility (consultancy for cities).