Cleaning Plastic from Rivers—a Noble Project

Many people are concerned about the growing problem of plastic in our oceans, including us. We were fascinated to learn about the efforts of Boyan Slat in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Actually, Slat says that plastic in rivers is the main source of the problem, as the plastic pollution in the rivers flows into the oceans. In an interview with CNET in October 2019 (which already has well over 1 million views), Slat said that 1,000 rivers worldwide are causing 80% of the problem of plastics in our oceans.

He and his team have created an ingenious device called The Interceptor. Slat says it’s the world’s first scalable solution to intercept plastic in rivers. It can change from wide to narrow and from deep to shallow. An “arm” is slung across the river to corral plastic as it heads downstream. The plastic is fed into the Interceptor, which funnels it into six receptacles which sit atop a barge “parked” inside the Interceptor. Once they are full the barge is moved out of the machine and docked along the riverbank. The six bins are then emptied into a recycling truck to go to a plant for processing. The empty bins are reloaded into the barge which “drives” back underneath the Interceptor to continue its work.

Slat said it’s a simple design and simple to operate. Currently the Interceptor is operating in Malaysia and Jakarta. Slat’s goal is to clean the 1,000 dirtiest rivers within 5 years.

We encourage you to watch the short and informative interview: