Cleanership is an ambitious program to retrieve and dispose of marine plastics & launch a fleet of self-empowered sustainability heroes.

Groups - About - Ships - Reports - Contact

Learn About the Cleanership


Imagine a garbage truck driving down the beach and tipping its load into the sea - every minute of the day - day in day out. That's the scale of the marine plastics problem.

In a year, eight million tons of plastic finds its way into the ocean and it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

The problem of marine plastics needs multiple solutions to be deployed right now. One part of the problem is that there's a lack of infrastructure to collect plastics from remote coastlines where it has washed up. That's where the Cleanership comes in.

The picture shows the fishing boat Reina De La Paz. Cleanership intends to purchase a vessel like this and convert it to a marine plastics collection and disposal platform. The Cleanership needs volunteers. Maybe you can be one of them. To get aboard the Cleanership, you will need a Cleanership Supporter Card.


The plan is to buy a ship and fit her with plastic disposal technology, then retrieve and dispose of marine plastics from remote shorelines to prevent it going back into the sea.

Cleanership Curriculum

The Cleanership will chart an annual route. Along the way, volunteer Cleanernehip Cadets will conduct beach clean-up operations. When the vessel is steaming between destinations, the Cleanership Cadets will undertake the Cleanership Curriculum, a comprehensive sustainability and self-empowerment program that seeks to launch a fleet of self-empowered individuals to go out and foster the transition to a sustainable human society.

Beach Clean-ups

In some areas, Cleanership will augment the efforts of local beach clean-up groups. In other places, the Cleanership Cadets will work alone. A variety of plastics collection and disposal techniques will be employed determined by the nature of the material, local constions and the operational constraints.

The first Cleanership will advise the design of a fleet of Cleanerships that will augment beach clean up operations and help keep shorelines free of plastics.

Cleanership Crowdfunding

It is planned to run a crowdfunding campaign to raise the money to buy the ship and put her to work. The proposed timeframes (as at 14 March, 2016) are shown in the below table.

Once the vessel is in operation, it is planned to run a competition called Plastics to Propulsion that will encourage design teams to develop effective system to use the energy in the plastics power the vessel. This will serve to reduce fuel bills and keep the vessel at sea longer.



The picture shows the fishing boat Reina De La Paz. This is an 1,800 tonne tuna ourse seiner. Cleanership intends to purchase a vessel like this and convert it to a marine plastics collection and disposal platform. The Cleanership needs volunteers.

Some of the technologies that might find a home on the Cleanership include:

Thermal Oxidation

Stirling Engine

Organic Rankine Cycle Turbine

Diesel-electric Engines

Plastics Pyrolysis

Thermo-electric Technology

Bacterial Digestion

Fungal Digestion


Thermal Oxidation
This is probably the simplest and safest way to dispose of marine plastics at sea. It involves a furnace that combusts the plastics at high temperatures (800 to 1,200 degree Celsius). At these temperatures, the long plastic molecules are broken apart and released as simple gases such as CO2 and nitrogen oxides.

Stirling Engines
A Stirling Engine is a technology that will enable the conversion of energy (heat) from plastics into electricity to power the vessel. Stirling engines are routinely used for propulsion in submarines. They are a form of external-combustion engine and can generate power for almost any source of heat.

Organic Rankin Cycle Turbine
This technology can be used to collect heat from the incinerator and produce electricity. It relies on the heat being used to boil a working gas that expands and drives a closed cycle turbine. Early calculations suggest that a 1 MW ORC could be used to power the ship.

Plastic Pyrolysis technology
Pyrolysis involves heating the plastics in the absence of oxygen. The long molecules will break apart and form a gas that can be turned into a fuel that can be used in diesel engines.

Diesel-electric Engines
If the Cleanership were powered by a diesel electric powertrain, it may be possible to feed either fuel or electricity made from plastic into this system to supplment or replace the need for buying diesel fuel.

Thermo-electric Technology
This technology platform includes things such as thermocouples and peltier chips both of which directly convert heat into electricity. They typically do not have very high conversion rates, but require minimal maintenance.

Bacterial Digestion
Recently, a number of scientific studies have shown that some bacteria are able to digest plastics. If these bacteria can be cultured in sufficiently high volumes, it might be possibe to use these onboard the Cleanership.

Fungal Digestion
Some fungi also have the capacity to digest plastics. Apparently, the plastic-hungry fungi can also be used as a source of food. Imagine that - on the Cleanership, we might dipose of plastic by eating it!


Cleanership is an initiative of The Long Future Foundation: