Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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

Residents plant mangroves on the coast of West Aceh District in Indonesia on Feb. 21, 2020. Mangroves play a crucial role in stabilizing the coastline, providing protection from storms, waves and tidal erosion. Dekyon Eon / Opn Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mangroves play a vital role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere. Mangrove forests are tremendous assets in the fight to stem the climate crisis. They store more carbon than a rainforest of the same size.

Read More Show Less
UN World Oceans Day is usually an invite-only affair at the UN headquarters in New York, but this year anyone can join in by following the live stream on the UNWOD website from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. https://unworldoceansday.org/

Monday is World Oceans Day, but how can you celebrate our blue planet while social distancing?

Read More Show Less
Cryptococcus yeasts (pictured), including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images

By Jacob L. Steenwyk and Antonis Rokas

From the mythical minotaur to the mule, creatures created from merging two or more distinct organisms – hybrids – have played defining roles in human history and culture. However, not all hybrids are as fantastic as the minotaur or as dependable as the mule; in fact, some of them cause human diseases.

Read More Show Less
National Trails Day 2020 is now titled In Solidarity, AHS Suspends Promotion of National Trails Day 2020. The American Hiking Society is seeking to amplify Black voices in the outdoor community and advocate for equal access to the outdoors. Klaus Vedfelt / DigitalVision / Getty Images

This Saturday, June 6, marks National Trails Day, an annual celebration of the remarkable recreational, scenic and hiking trails that crisscross parks nationwide. The event, which started in 1993, honors the National Trail System and calls for volunteers to help with trail maintenance in parks across the country.

Read More Show Less
Indigenous people from the Parque das Tribos community mourn the death of Chief Messias of the Kokama tribe from Covid-19, in Manaus, Brazil, on May 14, 2020. MICHAEL DANTAS / AFP / Getty Images

By John Letzing

This past Wednesday, when some previously hard-hit countries were able to register daily COVID-19 infections in the single digits, the Navajo Nation – a 71,000 square-kilometer (27,000-square-mile) expanse of the western US – reported 54 new cases of what's referred to locally as "Dikos Ntsaaígíí-19."

Read More Show Less
World Environment Day was put into motion almost fifty years ago by the United Nations as a response to a multitude of environmental threats. RicardoImagen / Getty Images

It's a different kind of World Environment Day this year. In prior years, it might have been enough to plant a tree, spend some extra time in the garden, or teach kids the importance of recycling. This year we have heavier tasks at hand. It's been months since we've been able to spend sufficient time outside, and as we lustfully watch the beauty of a new spring through our kitchen's glass windows, we have to decide how we'll interact with the natural world on our release, and how we can prevent, or be equipped to handle, future threats against our wellbeing.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Experts are worried that COVID-19, a primarily respiratory and airway disease, could have permanent effects on lungs, inhibiting the ability for divers to continue diving. Tiffany Duong / Ocean Rebels

Scuba divers around the world are holding their metaphorical breath to see if a coronavirus infection affects the ability to dive.

Read More Show Less