by Dr. Joseph Mercola
November 30, 2019
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Boyan Slat, a young Dutch entrepreneur and his group,
Cleanup, have invented an ingenious collection barge to clean
plastic debris from our oceans
During its test run, the collection barge collected macro and micro
plastic debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
In October, The Ocean Cleanup unveiled a solar powered device called
the Interceptor to remove plastic waste from rivers
Of the world's 100,000 rivers, 1,000 are responsible for most
plastic that reaches the oceans. Interceptors have already been
deployed in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Klang, Malaysia
The Interceptor may be the lowest cost way to remove plastic
pollution and is especially cost effective in coastal countries
where tourism and fisheries industries are prevalent
Boyan Slat, a young Dutch entrepreneur, and his group Ocean Cleanup
have invented an ingenious collection barge to clean plastic debris
from our oceans.
When their barge, called System 001/B, was tested
in June 2019 in the
Great Pacific Garbage Patch - the first
plastic-ridden area Slat planned to tackle - it worked
The patch, a trash vortex between the West Coast of North America
and Japan, 2 is twice the size of Texas. 3
During its test run in the
Garbage Patch, System 001/B captured visible pieces of plastic
debris - sometimes called macroplastics - large ghost nets used with
commercial fishing and even microplastics in its haul. 4
On the basis of challenges discovered in its test run, The Ocean
Cleanup team will begin to design an improved barge to be known as
System 002. And, there is more good news about The Ocean Cleanup's
efforts, detailed in the below video, "Boyan Slat Unveils the Ocean
In October, they rolled out an innovative and workable plan to
turbocharge plastic cleanup efforts, pun intended. 5
The group ascertained
that about 80% of ocean plastic pollution comes from the world's
rivers and they have developed a plan to target the 1,000 most
plastic-polluting rivers with a new invention. 6
The device, called The Interceptor, can collect 50,000 kilos
(110,231 pounds) of plastic trash every day - equivalent to 1
million soda bottles, according to the featured video - and may
collect up to 100,000 kg a day under perfect conditions. 7
Interceptors have already been deployed - one in Jakarta, Indonesia,
and one in Klang, Malaysia. 8
Others are in the works.
Which Rivers Need To Be Targeted?
"When it rains, plastic washes from street to creek to river to
ocean," Slat points out 9 - a fact which seems pretty evident.
how can it be determined which specific rivers are the worst
culprits and need to be targeted?
After all, there are about 100,000
rivers in the world!
The Ocean Cleanup created a monitoring system that can be attached
to a bridge, scanning for plastic that floats by. With the use of
artificial intelligence, the system allowed The Ocean Cleanup team
to automatically measure how much plastic was flowing out of a
Based on that information, they were able to create an interactive
global map model, the first of its kind, that ranks rivers on the
basis of the amount of plastic pollution in them.
It was soon discovered that a small fraction - only 1 percent - was
causing most of the pollution, says Slat in his Interceptor
presentation. If 100,000 rivers were contributing to plastic
pollution, the cleanup task might be overwhelming.
But since a relatively
small number of rivers are responsible for most of the pollution,
those 1,000 plastic-polluting rivers can be targeted with the new
The Interceptor Is Accepted by Other Countries
Obviously, an ambitious plan to attack plastic river waste on an
international scale needs the buy-in from world leaders as well as
funding, and The Ocean Cleanup is securing both.
Working with government leaders and private corporations, the team
plans to install Interceptors in the 1,000 most-polluted rivers
within the next five years. 11
Those of us who are concerned about
plastic pollution know that time is of the essence.
In addition to the Interceptors already installed in Malaysia and
Indonesia, others are planned for,
Thailand has also agreed
to situate an Interceptor near Bangkok.
The Ocean Cleanup has not neglected the U.S., which is clearly one
of the world's major producers and disposers of plastic. It is
currently in talks with officials in Los Angeles county, according
to the video report.
Though an Interceptor costs approximately
$777,000 right now,
The Ocean Cleanup predicts that costs will come
down as production increases. 13
The Challenge of Closing the Plastic Tap
River cleanup is crucial to solving the ocean plastic problem
because removing existing plastic in the ocean is not enough, says
Slat in the video. 14
"To truly rid the oceans of plastic, what we need to do is two
One, we need to clean up the legacy pollution, the stuff
that has been accumulating for decades and doesn't go away by
itself. But, two, we need to close the tap, which means preventing
more plastic from reaching the oceans in the first place.
the arteries that carry the trash from land to sea."
The Ocean Cleanup
doesn't want to be,
collector of the oceans," says Slat, though it would be a
"pretty sustainable business model."
Rather, The Ocean
"is to put ourselves
out of business." 15
Still, judging by current pollution data, it will be quite a while
before The Ocean Cleanup runs out of plastic garbage to collect.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA), a mere 9.1% of the
plastic material generated in the U.S. municipal solid waste stream
was recycled in 2015, and only about 30% of plastic bottles and jars
were recycled. 16,17
That is why The Ocean Cleanup's campaign is so
important and urgent.
How Does the Interceptor Work?
According to the "Boyan Slat Unveils The Ocean Cleanup Interceptor"
below video, the Intercept system is anchored to the riverbed and makes
use of the natural flow of the river to collect plastic debris as it
Its barrier guides the plastic into the mouth of the Interceptor and
a conveyer belt scoops the plastic out of the water. (Slat uses
scores of little yellow rubber duckies in the video to demonstrate
the system's effectiveness.)
To prevent clogging, the
belt has been made to be permeable and behind it is a flow channel
that creates a suction effect. 18
After the plastic has been funneled into the Intercept, the conveyer
places the plastic in the "shuttle," a basket on wheels, which
distributes the plastic across six dumpsters, sensing which ones are
full or empty.
Each dumpster can hold 50 cubic meters (1,765 cubic
feet) of trash.
When the dumpsters are full, the Interceptor signals through its
internet-linked, onboard computer to local operators to bring a boat
for towing the full barge so the plastic can be emptied and
While the barge is removed from the river for emptying,
the shuttle can still collect plastic, says Slat.
The Interceptor's Environmentally Sensitive Features
When you look at the Interceptor's features, it is clear The Ocean
Cleanup team has thought through all the potential problems that
could come from such a system including its environmental toll.
For example, even though the Interceptor's floating barrier directs
garbage into the system, it will usually only span part of the river
so it will not interfere with the movement of wildlife and the safe
passage of vessels.
The Interceptor is able to do this because
Ocean Cleanup discovered through sensors that at certain points in
many rivers, "all the plastic is flowing through this very narrow
band," says Slat.
This removes the need for the Interceptor to span the whole width of
the river. 20
Next, the Interceptor is
powered by solar panels and onboard lithium-ion batteries that
enable it to operate day and night with no human operator, and
without noise or exhaust fumes. 21
Finally, the nose of the Interceptor has been engineered to deflect
large objects like trees that could enter the unit and harm the
And, because the Interceptor is designed like a catamaran
sailboat, it has a low center of gravity and is very unlikely to tip
"It will stay upright no matter what," Slat says.
Is the Interceptor Cost Effective?
The key metric to determine if a plastic cleanup method is practical
is the cost per kilogram of plastic collected, says Slat.
the Interceptor's effectiveness and the fact that it is a "series
produced product," it offers the lowest cost for such removal.
But there is another metric through which the Interceptor's costs
should be analyzed, says Slat, and that is the cost to tourism and
fisheries in coastal countries of doing nothing about plastic waste.
Countries are "losing money every day" that they do not invest in
plastic removal, he says.
Dramatic before and after pictures of
plastic-polluted and cleaned rivers during his presentation
underscore the urgency of tackling plastic waste and the feasibility
of deploying the Interceptor.
Plastic pollution take a huge toll on marine life, which often
mistake the plastic bits for food.
Chemicals used to make plastics
disrupt hormones, embryonic development and gene expression, and are
linked, in humans, to obesity, heart disease and cancer.
estimated that humans are now eating, swallowing or breathing in
about 2,000 pieces of microplastic a week, equal to the weight of
one credit card. 22
What Can You Do About Plastic Pollution?
While technology like the Interceptor is an encouraging step
forward, each and every one of us has a responsibility and share the
burden for putting an end to plastic pollution.
Below is a sampling
of strategies that can help:
Don't use plastic bags
- use reusable bags
Make sure the items you recycle are recyclable (See this list.)
Use reusable shopping bags for groceries
Take your own leftovers container to restaurants
Bring your own mug for coffee, and bring drinking water from home in
glass water bottles instead of buying bottled water
Request no plastic wrap on your newspaper and dry cleaning
Store foods in glass containers or mason jars rather than plastic
containers and plastic freezer bags
Avoid disposable utensils and straws and buy foods in bulk when you
Opt for non-disposable razors, washable feminine hygiene products for
women, cloth diapers, handkerchiefs instead of paper tissues, rags
in lieu of paper towels and infant toys made of wood rather than
Avoid processed foods (which are stored in plastic bags with
chemicals). Buy fresh produce instead, and forgo the plastic bags
Cleanup October 2, 2019
Cleanup August 16, 2019
5, 6, 8, 21 Ocean
Cleanup October 26, 2019
7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15, 18, 20 Boyan
Slat unveils The Ocean Cleanup Interceptor
Boom October 30, 2019
Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures
Balance Small Business October 10, 2019
October 29, 2019
Today June 13, 2019