Spoilt - Ocean Cleanup: Alternative logistics chains to accommodate plastic waste recycling: An economic evaluation

Andreas van Giezen, Bart Wiegmans*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
114 Downloads (Pure)


Every year about 300 million tons of plastic is produced, resulting in more than five trillion plastic particles currently floating in the oceans five largest convergence zones. The Ocean Cleanup is testing a method to passively collect this floating plastic debris, transport, recycle, process and sell it. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate alternative logistics chains to accommodate ocean plastic waste recycling by connecting transport with data collection and data analytics. The scenarios are based on different geographical destinations, supply chain lengths and types, and offered local development opportunities. A new reverse logistics channel dedicated to the Ocean Cleanup is developed, as existing reverse logistics supply chains are not able to capture the specifics of the plastic waste collection. Performances of the different scenarios are assessed by collecting data (on plastic volumes collected from the Ocean, on usage of plastics as a resource, and on transport cost) and usage of a detailed integrated model which enables a performance comparison of different logistical structures on logistics costs and on plastics production outputs. The cheapest and most disappointing solution would be to do nothing. However, the analysis shows that more complicated logistic structures whereby the collected plastic waste is used to produce glasses, socks, and carpets can lead to sustainable business models for cleaning up the Oceans. If the focus would be only on cost, the best model would be to minimize the transport distance and focus on San Francisco as closest port for the selected gyre to be analyzed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100115
Number of pages12
JournalTransportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Economical logistics
  • Ocean cleanup
  • Sustainable logistics


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