The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Barrier to Stop Plastic Waste From Reaching the Sea Launches in Amsterdam
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
The Centers for Disease Control has emphasized that washing hands with soap and water is one of the most effective measures we can take in preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, millions of Americans in some of the most vulnerable communities face the prospect of having their water shut off during the lockdowns, according to The Guardian.
Aerial photos of the Sierra Nevada — the long mountain range stretching down the spine of California — showed rust-colored swathes following the state's record-breaking five-year drought that ended in 2016. The 100 million dead trees were one of the most visible examples of the ecological toll the drought had wrought.
Now, a few years later, we're starting to learn about how smaller, less noticeable species were affected.
Natthawat / Moment / Getty Images
Disinfectants and cleaners claiming to sanitize against the novel coronavirus have started to flood the market, raising concerns for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which threatened legal recourse against retailers selling unregistered products, according to The New York Times.
The global coronavirus pandemic has thrown our daily routine into disarray. Billions are housebound, social contact is off-limits and an invisible virus makes up look at the outside world with suspicion. No surprise, then, that sustainability and the climate movement aren't exactly a priority for many these days.
By Molly Matthews Multedo
Livestock farming contributes to global warming, so eating less meat can be better for the climate.