A trash-eating boat could clean up the world’s rivers.
A Dutch foundation devoted to fighting plastic pollution in the world’s oceans has unveiled a new device designed to stop it from reaching the sea in the first place: by collecting and cleaning plastic waste from major rivers. The Ocean Cleanup Foundation, a non-governmental organization, best known for its attempts to collect and clean plastic from the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” says it has been testing a system based on similar principles — a floating barrier to collect plastic passively — for use in rivers.
“To solve the plastic pollution problem, we need to do two things: Clean up what’s already in the oceans and prevent more plastic from reaching the ocean in the first place,” says 25-year-old founder Boyan Slat (pictured above). The system has already been tested on rivers in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Malaysia, with two more planned for Vietnam’s Mekong Delta and the Dominican Republic. According to Slat, 1 percent of rivers are responsible for 80 percent of the pollution in the world’s seas. “That makes finding a solution to the problem of plastic pollution emanating from rivers quite achievable,” he says. The venture has attracted $1 million in funding from the Benioff Ocean Initiative, and the ocean trash will be transformed into quality, sustainable products, that will be sold to fund the project.