“OceanHero” funds marine cleanups through the use of a search engine

OceanHero, an organization that cleans up the oceans and recycles discarded plastics, is funded through the use of its special search engine. Credit: Facebook/Ocean Hero

OceanHero is an organization that funds the recovery of plastic at sea, the development of recycling infrastructure and the technology to turn waste into new goods, all through the simple use of a search engine.

Founder of Ocean Hero Marvin Burman from Germany describes himself as a “serial entrepreneur” who has eight years of experience creating digital products. He co-founded a software testing company which he sold to the world leader in digital testing and built a strong presence in the European market.

The idea for OceanHero came to Burman when he realized that sustainability would be the biggest challenge of the 2020s. After his eight years working at a standard tech company, he wanted to focus on something something that has a lasting positive impact on humanity and the environment.

Greek journalist spoke to OceanHero on Thursday to hear the story of how this incredible effort got started.

OceanHero now enjoys 4.5 million searches per month

Burman says, “In my previous job, I worked a lot with search engines. Google was actually one of our clients. When I saw that companies offered to plant a tree with the purchase of a t-shirt or a jacket, I had a click. The entrepreneur financed OceanHero with his personal savings.

Pawel Wszola, the CTO of OceanHero, is a software developer who also has eight years of experience in start-up expertise. He has spent much of his career creating healthcare products, including a telemedicine solution that helps thousands of doctors provide patient care. When Burman told him about Ocean Hero, Wszola didn’t hesitate to drop his other three projects to bring OceanHero to life.

OceanHero explains that advertisers pay the organization each time viewers click on their ads, allowing them to help pay for the collection of ocean-based plastics around the world.

The new search engine is what really drives the effort, however; and it works like any other search engine, depending on the organization. However, unlike other search engines, OceanHero searches benefit the planet. Over the past seven months, OceanHero users have helped prevent 21 million plastic bottles from entering the ocean.

For five searches done by users on Ocean Hero, they help recover a plastic bottle from the oceans and seas of the world. Additionally, through partnerships with Plastic Bank, Waste Free Oceans, and Trash Waste Solutions, the plastic recovery process provides lifesaving jobs to people who would otherwise live in extreme poverty.

The company also recently signed a partnership with Microsoft that allows it to display search results powered by Microsoft’s search engine, “Bing”. The agreement also allows Microsoft advertisers to run their advertisements on OceanHero.

Entrepreneurs Burman and Wszola founded the organization in 2019. In addition to raising funds to recover ocean-bound plastic, they are committed to raising awareness of the issues driving the ocean plastic crisis. There are now five team members at OceanHero.

Since the launch of the search engine in early 2020, the number of searches has reached an incredible 4.5 million per month.

A total of 21 million plastic bottles saved from the seas of the world

So far, they’ve funded the recovery of 21 million plastic bottles, says OceanHero Greek journalist.

Based in Berlin, Germany, the organization now makes its search engine available on six platforms: Google Chrome, Safari, Edge, Firefox, Android and iOS.

Ask by Greek journalist how much of every online search is donated to ocean cleanup, officials say: “So far, 100% of profits (and even some of the founders’ private funds) have gone to cleanup efforts.

“So far, the search engine has raised over $90,000. Most of the cleanups have taken place in India, Indonesia, the Dominican Republic and the Philippines.

“There have also been cleanups in Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany and they hope to eventually work in Greece,” the organization notes.

In a very significant development, plastic collected from OceanHero-funded projects in Manado and Siladen, Indonesia, is now being used to make bricks that can be used in building construction.

“OceanHero took open-source plastic engineering blueprints and developed them with a more powerful engine and other improvements,” to make the revolutionary bricks,” Burman explains to Greek journalist.

He then adds “the machine consists of three parts: a part shreds, a bottom and a form the melted plastic”.

Regarding competition with the Google search engine, Burman says, “New search engines have extreme difficulty entering the market. Competing head-on with a giant like Google is extremely difficult, especially when competing against its core product.

“Google controls most access to search worldwide. Google’s partnership with Apple makes it the default search engine on iOS devices. In addition, Google results are the default results on Android mobile devices and Chrome desktop browsers.

Burman notes “On Chrome, it is possible, but quite inconvenient, to change the default search engine. On Android and iOS, it is completely impossible to change the system-wide default search engine.

However, Ocean Hero’s fortunes have recently improved after a new ruling by the European Union.

“Only recently did the EU pass a directive that requires Google to let users change their default search engine,” Burman notes, adding “This forces competitors to pay Google by bidding for a place on the list presented to the user”.

This painless way to find what you’re looking for online will go a long way in helping Burman and Wszola’s tireless efforts to rid the oceans and seas of plastics.