Airbnb and Samara Co-Founder Donates $25 Million to The Ocean Cleanup

Entrepreneur and designer Gebbia’s contribution marks the organization’s largest private donation to date, and will advance global cleaning efforts in oceans and rivers

Rotterdam, The Netherlands, February 3, 2023 – Today, The Ocean Cleanup – the international non-profit project developing and scaling technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic – announced its largest private donation to date, a $25 million gift from Joe Gebbia, Co-founder of Airbnb and Samara and Chairman of Airbnb.org. The Ocean Cleanup will use these funds to continue and expand its operations across oceans, rivers, recycling, and scientific research – and, in particular, to support the launch of System 03, the latest iteration of its ocean cleaning system, in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch later this year. This latest gesture of support from Joe Gebbia will significantly contribute to The Ocean Cleanup’s mission, allowing it to scale faster, remove pollutants more efficiently, and ultimately move closer to its vision of restored oceans around the world.

“As a non-profit project with a big mission, we cannot do it alone – we need financial contributions to achieve our objectives. Joe’s continued support of The Ocean Cleanup’s mission has a direct impact on our operations all over the world,” said Boyan Slat, Founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup. “Thanks, in part, to his generous assistance, we are able to scale up our work in oceans and rivers, helping us reach our goal of ridding the world’s oceans of plastic. On behalf of the world’s largest ecosystem, we are immensely grateful for the support.”

The Ocean Cleanup develops and scales technologies to rid the oceans of plastic. To do this, the organization employs a dual strategy: cleaning up the existing legacy plastic floating in the ocean while also addressing new emissions of plastic flowing into the ocean from rivers, using a portfolio of Interceptor Solutions. The Ocean Cleanup’s pilot-scale ocean cleaning system, System 002, has been deployed in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (located between Hawaii and California, and consisting of up to 100,000,000 kilograms of plastic) since late 2021. It has so far removed close to 200,000 kilograms (or roughly 440,000 pounds) of plastic that otherwise would have remained trapped for decades or more.

In rivers, The Ocean Cleanup aims to engage preventive measures to “close the tap” by intercepting additional plastic downstream before it can reach the ocean. Its Interceptor Solutions are currently deployed or trialing in eight countries around the world – the most recent deployments began operations in Los Angeles County (USA) and Kingston (Jamaica) in November and December 2022, respectively. So far, the organization’s solutions have intercepted over 2 million kilograms (almost 4.5 million pounds) of trash in rivers, keeping it out of our oceans for good.

“I’m proud to partner with The Ocean Cleanup in their crucial work to remove harmful plastics from our oceans,” shared Gebbia. “The Ocean Cleanup has created systems and technology that actually work at scale. In order for them to deploy across our oceans and rivers, they now need to scale their funding. It is my hope that this donation can inspire others to act.”

Gebbia’s use of design to solve problems led to the creation of Airbnb and Samara, and Airbnb.org, his non-profit brainchild that provides housing to people in crisis. Gebbia continues to give back to causes that improve the quality of life for people and the planet. He serves on the board of Refuge Olympic Foundation, and the leadership councils for the Tent Partnership for Refugees and the UNHCR. This contribution expands on his giving to now include climate health.

About The Ocean Cleanup

The Ocean Cleanup is a non-profit project that develops and scales technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. It aims to achieve this goal by taking a two-pronged approach: stemming the inflow via rivers and cleaning up legacy plastic already accumulated in the ocean. For the latter, The Ocean Cleanup develops large-scale systems to efficiently concentrate the plastic for periodic removal. This plastic is tracked and traced through DNV’s chain of custody model to certify claims of origin when recycling it into new products. To curb the tide via rivers, The Ocean Cleanup has developed Interceptor solutions to halt and extract riverine plastic before it reaches the ocean. Interceptor solutions are currently deployed in eight countries. Founded in 2013 by Boyan Slat, The Ocean Cleanup now employs a broadly multi-disciplined team of 145. The foundation is headquartered in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

For more information, visit theoceancleanup.com and follow @theoceancleanup on social media.

About Joe Gebbia

Joe Gebbia is the co-founder of Airbnb, co-founder of Samara, member of Tesla’s Board of Directors, and chairman of Airbnb.org, his non-profit brainchild that provides housing to people in crisis. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, where he received dual degrees in Graphic Design and Industrial Design, Joe’s creative instincts have uniquely shaped his expansive entrepreneurship efforts and social impact portfolio.

He is dedicated to giving back to those in need, from promoting women and youth in athletics and education, and supporting refugees through the Malala Fund and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, among other organizations. Airbnb.org is currently assisting over 100,000 refugees of Ukraine. His educational efforts include an endowment to the visual arts and athletics at his alma mater, Brookwood High School, gifts of Airbnb shares to graduating students at the Brookwood Class of 2022 commencement, and a similar endowment at RISD to aid scholarship recipients.

Joe has spoken globally about design and entrepreneurship at TED, WIRED, the 2021 Index Design Awards, SXSW and more. He also served as a jury member for the White House Millennium Council’s 2021 National Design Awards presented by Cooper Hewitt and the Smithsonian Design Museum.

A lifelong basketball fan, Joe is a member of the San Antonio Spurs investor group. He has further been named in BusinessWeek’s Top 20 Best Young Tech Entrepreneurs, Inc. Magazine’s Thirty under Thirty, Fortune’s Forty-under-Forty, and was named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People.

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