Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Ocean Cleanup Team Unveils Solar Powered 'Interceptor' to Collect Plastic in Rivers

Oceans
Dutch Founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup Boyan Slat, presents in Rotterdam the new barge system called "The Interceptor" which will be used for the expansion of their river and ocean cleaning campaign on Oct. 26. ROBIN UTRECHT / ANP / AFP / Getty Images

The Dutch inventor behind the Ocean Cleanup is now looking to stop plastic pollution at the source.


On Saturday, 25-year-old Boyan Slat unveiled the "Interceptor": a floating, solar-powered device designed to scoop plastic out of rivers, The Associated Press reported.

"We need to close the tap, which means preventing more plastic from reaching the ocean in the first place," Slat said.

Around eight million metric tons of plastic enters the world's oceans every year, where it threatens marine life. However, scientists like University of North Carolina, Asheville assistant professor Rebecca Helm warned that Ocean Cleanup's plan of scooping plastic from the ocean directly could also trap marine organisms. When the organization announced it had finally successfully collected plastic early in October, photographs revealed that this had indeed been the case.

Scientists have also argued that stopping plastic from entering the ocean in the first place would be more effective, Wired explained, and many were pleased that the non-profit seemed to be listening.

"I am really happy they finally moved toward the source of the litter,"Jan van Franeker of the Wageningen Marine Research institute told The Associated Press. "The design, from what I can see, looks pretty good."

Helm also tweeted that she was "encouraged" by the news.

Slat said that 1,000 rivers dump around 80 percent of plastic that flows into the ocean, and he wanted to clean them all in the next five years. So far, the device is installed in rivers in Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. A fourth will soon be installed in the Dominican Republic.

Fast Company explained how it works:

The new technology is designed to anchor to a riverbed, out of the path of passing boats. Like the system that the nonprofit designed for the ocean, which uses a large barrier that blocks part of the river to collect plastic as it floats by, the Interceptor has a floating barrier that directs trash into the system. The device is positioned where the greatest amount of plastic flows, and another device can be placed in farther down the river to catch trash that might escape the first Interceptor. A conveyor belt pulls the trash out of the water, and an autonomous system distributes it into dumpsters on a separate barge, sending an alert to local operators when the system is full and ready to be taken to a recycler.

On an average day, it can collect 50,000 kilograms (approximately 110,000 pounds), for a yearly total of approximately 20,000 tons.

So far, users are happy with the results.

"It has been used for one and a half months in the river and it's doing very well, collecting the plastic bottles and all the rubbish," Izham Hashim from the government of Selangor state in Malaysia said at the launch, as The Associated Press reported.

Wired pointed out that the device wasn't exactly original. Baltimore's Mr. Trash Wheel, which intercepts 200 tons of trash a year, predates it.

The Interceptor can clearly collect more, and it is intended to be mass produced and used in rivers around the world, instead of being designed for one particular location, like Mr. Trash Wheel.

"The scientific community has been saying for years that moving upstream is the way to correctly solve this problem," Adam Lindquist, director of the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore's Healthy Harbor campaign, told Wired. "And certainly imitation is the greatest form of flattery."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Women walk from Santa Monica beach after a social media workout on the sand on May 12, 2020 in Santa Monica, California. Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Independence Day weekend is a busy time for coastal communities as people flock to the beaches to soak up the sun during the summer holiday. This year is different. Some of the country's most popular beach destinations in Florida and California have decided to close their beaches to stop the surge in coronavirus cases.

Read More Show Less
Daily fireworks in many U.S. cities in recent weeks have no doubt been interfering with the sleep and peace of mind of thousands of veterans and others who suffer from PTSD. Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Arash Javanbakht

For some combat veterans, the Fourth of July is not a time to celebrate the independence of the country they love. Instead, the holiday is a terrifying ordeal. That's because the noise of fireworks – loud, sudden, and reminiscent of war – rocks their nervous system. Daily fireworks in many U.S. cities in recent weeks have no doubt been interfering with the sleep and peace of mind of thousands of veterans.

Read More Show Less
Koala populations across parts of Australia are on track to become extinct before 2050 unless "urgent government intervention" occurs. Mathias Appel / Flickr

Koala populations across parts of Australia are on track to become extinct before 2050 unless "urgent government intervention" occurs, warns a year-long inquiry into Australia's "most loved animal." The report published by the Parliament of New South Wales (NSW) paints a "stark and depressing snapshot" of koalas in Australia's southeastern state.

Read More Show Less
NASA is advancing tools like this supercomputer model that created this simulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to better understand what will happen to Earth's climate if the land and ocean can no longer absorb nearly half of all climate-warming CO2 emissions. NASA/GSFC

By Jeff Berardelli

For the past year, some of the most up-to-date computer models from the world's top climate modeling groups have been "running hot" – projecting that global warming may be even more extreme than earlier thought. Data from some of the model runs has been confounding scientists because it challenges decades of consistent projections.

Read More Show Less
A child stands in what is left of his house in Utuado, Puerto Rico, which was almost completely destroyed by Hurricane Maria, on Oct. 12, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Jon-Paul Rios. Flickr, CC by 2.0
By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

To hear many journalists tell it, the spring of 2020 has brought a series of extraordinary revelations. Look at what the nation has learned: That our health-care system was not remotely up to the challenge of a deadly pandemic. That our economic safety net was largely nonexistent. That our vulnerability to disease and death was directly tied to our race and where we live. That our political leadership sowed misinformation that left people dead. That systemic racism and the killing of Black people by police is undiminished, despite decades of protest and so many Black lives lost.
Read More Show Less
President Trump's claim last September that Hurricane Dorian was headed for Alabama's gulf coast was quickly refuted by employees at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). An independent investigation found that NOAA's chief violated the agency's ethics when he backed Trump's warning and doctored map that used a Sharpie to alter the storm's path, as EcoWatch reported.
Read More Show Less

Trending

African bush elephants in the Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve in Botswana on Nov. 22, 2016. Michael Jansen / Flickr

More than 350 elephants have died in Botswana since May, and no one knows why.

Read More Show Less