Cleaning the ocean by searching the ‘net

OceanHero search engine users have helped recover 21 million ocean-bound plastic bottles from the comfort of their homes and offices. When web surfers add the ocean-protection search engine to their browser, they recover ocean-bound plastic with every search.

“When you consider that 18 billion pounds of plastic waste enter our oceans every year, you realize that each of us has a responsibility to stem the tide,” said OceanHero founder Marvin Burman. “If humans don’t make major changes by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans.”

How OceanHero works

Internet users add the OceanHero search engine to their browser. When they conduct a search, open a new browser tab or answer ocean-themed trivia questions, OceanHero pays partners to recover ocean-bound plastic.

OceanHero works with organizations that have created a global infrastructure of plastic collection hubs, built micro recycling plants, found innovative ways to repurpose plastic, and provide pollution education. The funds come from unobtrusive ads displayed in the browser and search results, similar to what you see in any search engine. OceanHero does not track users’ search history or sell any personal information to third parties. 

Plastic into bricks

OceanHero works with Trash Waste Solutions to reclaim ocean-bound plastic and turn it into bricks in Manado, Indonesia, an area that has suffered massively from plastic dumping.

Burman noted, “Many communities have limited waste management systems. Recycling centres are often only available in larger cities. That’s why we started this pilot project in Indonesia. We’re creating micro recycling plants that transform plastic waste into building blocks. So instead of plastic destroying communities, it can rebuild them.” 

Partnerships 

OceanHero also partners with Plastic Bank, which has 32 branches in Haiti and the Philippines. Plastic Bank provides family sustaining plastic collection jobs in under-developed communities then recycles the plastic waste into reusable products.

The search engine also supports Waste Free Oceans, an organization that improves recycling infrastructure throughout the world. Burman noted, “This work will help more than 700 species that are impacted by plastic entanglement and ingestion.”

Beautiful and educational

When users add the OceanHero search engine to a browser, they can select ocean mode to see stunning oceanscape homepage backgrounds with every new tab they open. 

Burman said, “When people use our browser extension, we continuously engage them with messages and questions that highlight the marine-ecosystem’s importance and what we can do about ocean pollution.”

There’s also a gamified element – digital shell collecting. Users earn shells when they open new tabs, perform searches, or answer Ocean trivia questions. For every hundred shells collected, OceanHero can recover one plastic bottle. “By creating fun ways to engage people in the process, we can put a dent in the 10 million metric tons of plastic waste that enters the oceans each year. Every little bit helps,” said Burman.