The Ocean Cleanup | Deloitte Impact Foundation


The Plastic Journey: What happens with all that plastic? 

In this blog (3/5), Arlette Verdonk shares how the Tax team at Deloitte assists The Ocean Cleanup with its different projects from a tax perspective. Their challenge: Determining what the tax consequences are of each of the commercial initiatives from The Ocean Cleanup and to make sure that these activities are not frustrated by adversary tax consequences in EU and non-EU countries.

The Ocean Cleanup designs and develops advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans and rivers of plastic. Since 2017, Deloitte is supporting The Ocean Cleanup, across functions, to further professionalize their organization and operations. So far, around 20 projects have been executed by 131 Deloitte colleagues. Via this blog series, multiple colleagues share their experiences.

It is especially important that the people within the Tax team are aligned on the facts, circumstances and decision taken around the commercial initiatives of The Ocean Cleanup. The CIT-, Customs- and VAT team works closely together, to make sure that any decisions on the set-up of the commercial activities work from all angles and for instance do not lead to extensive tax compliance burdens for The Ocean Cleanup in EU and non-EU countries. As such, we as Deloitte Netherlands are also regularly in contact with different Deloitte teams globally, to align tax consequences between the Netherlands and other EU- and non-EU countries. 


  • CIT: Roy van de Ven, Hans Peter Spruit, Ilse Roefs
  • Customs: Rebecca Pehlivan, Kenneth Veninga
  • GES: Jori van den Bergh
  • VAT: Marloes Hanstede, Ashley Spencer, Arlette Verdonk

The Plastic Journey

By now most of you are aware, that The Ocean Cleanup’s aim is to clean up 90% of ocean plastic pollution. Different methods are used to achieve this aim, for instance the River Interceptor that was explained in a previous blog by our Consulting colleagues. Recently, The Ocean Cleanup has gathered ocean plastic pollution from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Then the question arises: What is done with all this plastic? 

The Ocean Cleanup’s aim is to create beautiful, sustainable products from the plastic collected and to provide these products to supporters in the EU and non-EU, to create even more awareness and involvement for the cause. In order to achieve this new goal, The Ocean Cleanup has created a new business case, namely The Plastic Journey that focuses on 10 steps to create these products from plastic pollution. 

Supporters can join The Ocean Cleanup's mission via this Plastic Journey by making an upfront donation to see each of the steps in making this product. They then have an option for an additional donation to receive the product. As such, not only are the costs for the product production covered, but the donations are also used to further fund The Ocean Cleanup's scale-up. More information can be found on their website

A challenging and exciting experience

Arlette Verdonk is part of the VAT team at Deloitte and participates in tax projects for The Ocean Cleanup. Arlette: 'We assist The Ocean Cleanup with all tax matters. This means that we need to be flexible, pro-active and are a sparring partner of The Ocean Cleanup at the earlier stages of the brainstorm sessions and set-up of new commercial initiatives. As such our primary focus is to have regular communications with The Ocean Cleanup and internally within Deloitte Netherlands and abroad. 

We need to be aware of any changes in the set-up of an initiative – such as The Plastic Journey – to make sure the correct actions are taken from a tax perspective. For instance: Where will the products be manufactured? Will they be transported to a central sales company? Who will be the respective customers that can purchase a product? What are the relevant tax consequences thereof? Furthermore, we noticed that in some cases a possible tax solution for business activities performed in the Netherlands or EU, could lead to adversary tax consequences or different outcomes in for instance a non-EU country. Small changes from a legal perspective also impact the tax angle of the initiative, therefore we have ongoing discussions and update, to make sure the entire picture is taken into account.  

What surprised me most is that a lot can change from a commercial perspective in a short amount of time, which also means that we as a Tax team need to be pro-active and flexible and should assist The Ocean Cleanup with their brainstorm on the best way to approach a new business case.'

The Deloitte Impact Foundation

Through the Deloitte Impact Foundation, Deloitte is committed to bring a positive impact to society. We share our core competences, knowledge and network in societal initiatives to make an impact in the fields of education & employment, sustainability and endurability. Read more about the Deloitte Impact Foundation and view our other initiatives.

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