Ocean Purpose Project (OPP)

Ocean Purpose Project (OPP)
Author: Sumnima Ghimire Date Created: 7/3/2023 10:15:43 AM

Ocean Purpose Project (OPP), founded in 2020 by Singaporean singer and performer Mathilda D'Silva, aims to create a movement that drives ocean conservation and plastic pollution prevention via disruptive and creative projects with mass-scale impact. The 3 key pillars of the project are:

  • to create bioplastics, a single-use plastic alternative from seaweed and mussels,
  • transform ocean waste into low-sulphur fuel, carbon black, hydrogen and carbon nanotubes through deployable pyrolysis machines and,
  • to mobilize corporates and communities through online/offline programs such as beach clean-ups, and blue carbon projects. 

The OPP combines sustainability, sports, music, entertainment, marine research, and behavior change activations with strong partnerships among Singapore's various government agencies and other countries, NGOs, academia, and corporations. The core partners and mentors of Ocean Purpose Project are United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, James Cook University, Singapore, EPPIC, Living Labs, Level 3, and Shell Startup Engine. 

Result Achieved

Currently, beach clean-ups by Ocean Purpose Project are the only clean-up in the world that converts collected ocean plastics into fuel i.e., hydrogen. The OPP plastic fuel unit collects ocean plastic daily and converts it into products such as low-sulfur fuel, hydrocarbon, and black carbon. 

Since the latest update on the project, it has made an impact on solving ocean pollution through the following achievements:

  • 380 mussel lines planted 
  • 5729.74 kgs of plastic waste collected
  • 125 coral reef stars replanted
  • 170 trees planted 

Each mobile plastic to fuel (ptf) unit is developed with a capacity to collect and shred about 2 tons of ocean plastic daily to turn into products.  

The project can remove 7.3 million kg of marine plastic per year with its 10 developed ptf units and create a circular market with sustainable products amounting to $36.5 million SGD (Singapore dollars) per annum. Moreover, the project provides a platform to conduct or get involved in environmental sustainability engagement programs for local communities, schools, and researchers. 

Challenges and Lesson Learned

The Ocean Purpose Project's current target is at the local level, with a set of long-term visions and frames for its expansion all around the region. Hence, to meet the grander ambition of safeguarding seas across the region, OPP is aligned with the High Seas Treaty to strive for a better future for all oceans. The ongoing efforts of the project in plastic-to-hydrogen and bioplastics are most relevant to support implementation approaches of the High Seas Treaty. 

Fundraising has been a major hurdle for the OPP, especially in scaling the bioremediation project, i.e., for the production of bioplastics made from seaweed and mussels and to execute the plastic-to-hydrogen project. Since the project aims to attract investors and companies with a real desire to get involved in environmental issues, securing funds has been a challenge.

However, to increase partnerships and attract investors, OPP has linked sustainability with sports and fashion. They are currently working with designers to make fabric out of seaweed and create customized accessories using bio-leather. Also, in order to combine sports and knowledge sharing, especially on SDG 14, OPP has organized initiatives like “paddle for a purpose” as well as successfully represented Singapore in the global UN Race for Oceans campaign. Through such initiatives, the project has been able to secure fund awards from different agencies. 

The other challenges lie regarding the institutional complexities and land tenure issues to successfully implement the project at the regional scale.


The project has received immense support and partnership from the community of indigenous peoples, ecosystems, islanders, fishermen, cleaners, and grassroots leaders. Bringing the community together and prioritizing science to practically implement the project in the field has been the major goal of the project.  Such ways of carrying out initiatives have immensely helped grassroots communities to actively get involved; through seaweed and mussel line plantation and beach clean-ups, eventually enhancing their livelihood through opportunities for productive fisheries practices and green jobs. 

The idea of combining sustainability with broader sectors such as fashion, music, marine research, and personal behavior has not only increased interest from environmental academia and researchers to invest in the project but also in fashion hubs and technical and marketing enterprises. 

Moreover, the concept of circular economy embedded in the project; growing seaweed and mussels and harvesting and turning them into bioplastics promotes sustainability, which sets the best example to be replicated in various other projects that work for waste management and green businesses.

The kNOwWaste Knowledge Platform was developed through a Project Cooperation Agreement funding by UNEP on 2016. The platform provides data and information on holistic waste management to stakeholders in Asia and the Pacific region. The platform was developed with the following aims: generate and consolidate data or information on holistic waste management, transform data into easily comprehensible outputs for use by key stakeholders, map out and disseminate information on international waste management projects under the GPWM and UNEP projects as well as other international partners, and provide capacity building support through dissemination of data or information support for relevant stakeholders on holistic waste and waste management system.
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