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Stopping Plastic Trash Entering the Ocean

Founded by Dutch wiz kid Boyan Slat, The Ocean Cleanup is probably best known for deploying huge trash collectors to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but has also sought to prevent plastic waste from reaching the oceans in the first place. The latest Interceptor vessel will prevent around 1,000 tons of plastic flowing into the Java Sea each year from the Cisadane River in Indonesia.

Ocean Cleanup's river garbage Interceptor
Ocean Cleanup's river garbage Interceptor | Ocean Cleanup

Essentially a solar-powered barge that's home to a conveyor system and a number of garbage bins, the vessel reaches out into the flowing river water with one or two floating barriers to guide plastic debris into its belly for subsequent on-shore collection and processing. According to New Atlas, it's also capable of autonomous operation on the water.

The fleet now operates in five locations around the world, including Los Angeles, and has so far prevented more than two million kilograms of trash from reaching the world's oceans - though The Ocean Cleanup says that "about 80 percent of riverine plastic pollution stems from 1,000 rivers" so there's still work to be done.

The Cisadane River is considered high priority by both The Ocean Cleanup and the Indonesian authorities, and will now see Interceptor 020 deployed by the end of 2023 in an effort to help Indonesia achieve a 70 percent reduction in marine plastic debris by 2025.

Recently, the co-founder of Airbnb has donated $25 million to support the Dutch nonprofit The Ocean Cleanup as they prepare to assemble and deploy the largest plastic capture system ever developed for use in the ocean - in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Having already removed tons of plastic waste, this new system is in the process of being scaled up to be the largest, most cost-effective ocean cleaning system ever developed. System 003 will feature a capture area 2.5 km (1.5 miles) wide, and a three-vessel team that will allow it to operate 24-7.

Boyan Slat’s clean up work in the GPGP - and now the world's rivers - will likely go down as one of the greatest accomplishments in the 21st century.


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