The Ocean Cleanup Aims To Rid World’s Dirtiest Rivers Of Plastic By 2025
Dutch non-profit The Ocean Cleanup has launched the Interceptor, an autonomous system for collecting plastic pollution from rivers before it reaches the sea.
The organisation said the solar-powered system would augment its ongoing efforts to remove marine plastic waste from the oceans. The company have also said they aim to rid the world's dirtiest rivers of plastic by 2025.
With research showing that 1% of rivers are actually responsible for 80% of the plastic that ends up in the ocean, the project is critical in freeing the world’s oceans of plastic.
The Interceptor has been in the works since 2015 and is already operational in Indonesia and Malaysia. Plans are also underway to install the system in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta and in Santo Domingo.
Incredibly, the system can extract a little over 110,000 pounds of plastic a day and on good days - with optimal conditions - it can double that number. These exciting plans come on the heels of news that The Ocean Cleanup has successfully begun collecting plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch after a few initial setbacks.
“To truly rid the oceans of plastic, we need to both clean up the legacy and close the tap, preventing more plastic from reaching the oceans in the first place,” says Boyan Slat, Founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup.
“Combining our ocean cleanup technology with the Interceptor, the solutions now exist to address both sides of the equation.”
Interceptors consist of floating barriers attached to processing plants that resemble barges and are anchored to the river bed. The barriers funnel plastic waste into the mouth of the plant, which is powered by solar panels and operates without the need for human operators.
A conveyor belt separates the waste from the water and moves it up to a shuttle, which automatically dumps the waste into containers on a separate barge docked below.
When the containers are all full, the onboard computer system alerts local partners to bring a boat and tow the barge of plastic waste away for recycling. Each system only spans part of the river, so boats and wildlife can manoeuvre around it.
According to the The Ocean Cleanup, each Interceptor can extract 50,000 kilograms of trash from a river each day, going up to 100,000 kilograms "under optimised conditions".
The device's solar panels charge lithium-ion batteries, which allow the plant to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without noise or fumes.
The Ocean Cleanup aims to install Interceptors in 1,000 of the world's most polluted rivers within five years.