Plastic waste is drowning the natural world: on current trends, there could be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050. But what if you could stop the stream of rubbish at the source? That’s exactly what one nonprofit is trying to do by bringing its unusual invention to the world’s dirtiest rivers. Technology that works, though, is just the beginning.
Each year, at least 8 million tons of plastic waste enter bodies of water, and more than 5 trillion pieces of microplastic currently contaminate the oceans. All of this plastic waste has been shown to harm everything from turtles to whales to coral to tiny amphipods that live at the bottom of the deepest marine trenches.
The robot interceptor
Four years in the making, The Ocean Cleanup’s Interceptor is a clever cleanup system. A large barge sits in the middle of the river. Floating waste is guided towards the opening of the interceptor by a long barrier. A conveyor belt then carries the collected rubbish up into a moving shuttle in the main body of the system, depositing the waste in large bins. Local operators monitor progress via smartphones and when the bins are full they take them to the edge of the river – where the rubbish is collected and taken to local waste management facilities.
The Interceptor is 100% solar-powered, operates day and night without any noise or fumes, and under optimal conditions can extract up to 50,000kg of waste per day. It has been designed for mass production, with the intention of being placed in the world’s most polluting rivers.
“WasteShark is cheaper, greener, more effective, and less disruptive than other methods of dealing with marine litter,” said Oliver Cunningham, chief commercial officer at RanMarine, told the Independent.
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