Quantcast

Barrier to Stop Plastic Waste From Reaching the Sea Launches in Amsterdam

Oceans
Preliminary tests of the bubble barrier have shown it to be capable of ushering 80 percent of the canal's plastic waste to its banks. The Great Bubble Barrier / YouTube screenshot

The scourge of plastic waste that washes up on once-pristine beaches and finds its way into the middle of the ocean often starts on land, is dumped in rivers and canals, and gets carried out to sea. At the current rate, marine plastic is predicted to outweigh all the fish in the seas by 2050, according to Silicon Canals.


Now, a Dutch start-up has launched a barrier device to remove plastic from canals and rivers while allowing fish to swim right through, as The Guardian reported.

The Great Bubble Barrier, an innovative start-up, teamed up with the Amsterdam municipal government and the regional water board to launch their device last week in Amsterdam's Westerdok Canal, at the tip of city's historic canal belt. The canal is an ideal starting point since it empties into the IJ river, which feeds the North Sea Canal and then the North Sea, as Silicon Canals reported.

"This is an important milestone," said Francis Zoet, co-founder of The Great Bubble Barrier start-up, as DutchNews reported. "This is the first project that is going to stop plastic from ending up in the sea."

The device consists of a pipe nearly 200 feet long that is punctured with holes and laid at the bottom of the canal. It sits at the canal bed on a diagonal line. Compressed air is pumped into the pipe, which then forms bubbles as it leaves. Since it is positioned diagonally, pieces of plastic are pushed toward the side of the canal by the bubbles. Then a floating platform captures the litter, as DutchNews reported.

Preliminary tests of the project, which has taken three years, show that the device is capable of ushering 80 percent of the canal's plastic waste to its banks. Furthermore, it works 24 hours a day and does not interfere with shipping or wildlife, according to The Great Bubble Barrier.

"More than two-thirds of plastics in the ocean comes out of rivers and canals – so if you have to intercept it, why not do it in the rivers?" said Philip Ehrhorn, co-inventor of the technology, as The Guardian reported. "You can't put a physical barrier in a canal: it has to be open for wildlife and recreation."

The Great Bubble Barrier will supplement current cleanup efforts in Amsterdam. Each year, a team of five garbage boats removes nearly 92,600 pounds of trash from the city's waterways, but small pieces of trash and plastic at the bottom of the canals simply slip through the nets.

"Plastic in our water is becoming an increasing problem [and] has profound effects on the quality of our water and therefore on everything that lives in or near the water," said Sander Mager, a board member of The Great Bubble Barrier, at the launch, as DutchNews reported. "This is precisely why it is important for the water management board to collaborate intensively with others to make a stand against this socially urgent problem."

The trash collected by The Great Bubble Barrier will be collected separately from what the garbage boats collect. The plastics action group Schone Rivieren, which translates to Clean Rivers, will analyze the waste.

"Amsterdam's canals have enormous appeal," said Marieke van Doorninck, head of sustainability for Amsterdam council, as The Guardian reported. "But when you think of them, you don't think about plastic bottles and bags in the water. The bubble barrier will mean fewer plastics reach the ocean, and is a step towards better regulation of our ecosystem, to the benefit of man, beast and environment."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Two tankers leaving the Tamborine Mountain after being held up for two hours by TM Extinction Rebellion on Dec. 6.

A school in Queensland, Australia sent a note home to parents asking them to send their children with extra water bottles since its water supply has run dry, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

Read More Show Less
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers a press statement on the European Green Deal at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on Dec. 11, 2019. Xinhua / Zheng Huansong via Getty Images

The European Commission introduced a plan to overhaul the bloc's economy to more sustainable, climate-conscious policies and infrastructure, with the goal of being carbon-neutral by 2050, according to CNBC.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Young activists shout slogans on stage after Greta Thunberg (not in the picture) took part in the plenary session during the COP25 Climate Conference on Dec. 11 in Madrid, Spain. Pablo Blazquez Dominguez / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Young activists took over and occupied the main stage at the COP25 climate conference in Madrid, Spain Wednesday and demanded world leaders commit to far more ambitious action to address the ecological emergency.

Read More Show Less
A NASA image showing the ozone hole at its maximum extent for 2015. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The Montreal Protocol, a 1987 international treaty prohibiting the production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to save the ozone layer, was the first successful multilateral agreement to successfully slow the rate of global warming, according to new research. Now, experts argue that similar measures may lend hope to the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
Example of starlings murmuration pictured in Scotland. Tanya Hart / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Police in Wales are in the midst of an unusual investigation: the sudden death of more than 200 starlings.

Read More Show Less