Float­ing plas­tic re­moval in­ven­tion touted

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Second Front - By MIKE CORDER

ROTTERDAM, Nether­lands — Dutch in­ven­tor Boyan Slat is widen­ing his ef­fort to clean up float­ing plas­tic from the Pa­cific Ocean by mov­ing into rivers, too, us­ing a new float­ing de­vice to catch garbage be­fore it reaches the seas.

The 25-year-old univer­sity dropout founded The Ocean Cleanup to de­velop and de­ploy a sys­tem he in­vented when he was 18 that catches plas­tic waste float­ing in the ocean.

On Satur­day he un­veiled the next step in his fight: A float­ing so­lar-pow­ered de­vice that he calls the “In­ter­cep­tor” that scoops plas­tic out of rivers as it drifts past.

“We need to close the tap, which means pre­vent­ing more plas­tic from reach­ing the ocean in the first place,” he said, call­ing rivers “the ar­ter­ies that carry the trash from land to sea.”

Slat’s or­ga­ni­za­tion has in the past drawn crit­i­cism for fo­cus­ing only on the plas­tic trash al­ready float­ing in the world’s oceans.

Ex­perts say that some 9 mil­lion tons (8 mil­lion met­ric tons) of plas­tic waste, in­clud­ing plas­tic bot­tles, bags, toys and other items, flow an­nu­ally into the ocean from beaches, rivers and creeks.

Three of the ma­chines al­ready are de­ployed to In­done­sia, Malaysia and Viet­nam — and a fourth is head­ing to the Do­mini­can Repub­lic, he said.

Izham Hashim from the gov­ern­ment of Se­lan­gor state in Malaysia was present at the launch and said he was happy with the ma­chine.

“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,” he said.

Slat said he be­lieves 1,000 rivers are re­spon­si­ble for some 80% of plas­tic pour­ing into the world’s oceans and he wants to tackle them all in the com­ing five years.

“This is not go­ing to be easy, but imag­ine if we do get this done,” he told his au­di­ence of en­thu­si­as­tic sup­port­ers, who whooped, clapped and cheered his an­nounce­ments. “We could truly make our oceans clean again.”

The ves­sel is de­signed to be moored in rivers and has a nose shaped to de­flect away larger float­ing de­bris like tree trunks.

He used his livestream­ed un­veil­ing to ap­peal for sup­port from coun­tries com­mit­ting to clean up their rivers and busi­nesses pre­pared to in­ject fund­ing and help with the op­er­a­tion of the de­vices.

The in­ter­cep­tors work by guid­ing plas­tic waste into an open­ing in its bow, a con­veyor belt then car­ries the trash into the guts of the ma­chine where it is dropped into dump­sters. The in­ter­cep­tor sends a text mes­sage to lo­cal op­er­a­tors that can come and empty it when it’s full.

Slat showed off how it worked by dump­ing hun­dreds of yel­low rub­ber ducks into the water at the launch event in Rotterdam’s port. The in­ter­cep­tor caught nearly all of them.

The ma­chines cur­rently cost about 700,000 eu­ros ($775,600), but Slat said the cost will likely drop as pro­duc­tion in­creases.

Jan van Franeker of the Wa­genin­gen Marine Re­search in­sti­tute has been crit­i­cal of The Ocean Cleanup in the past, but said the new de­vice looks promis­ing.

“I am re­ally happy they fi­nally moved to­ward the source of the lit­ter,” he said in a tele­phone in­ter­view. “The de­sign, from what I can see, looks pretty good.”

As­so­ci­ated Press

Young Dutch in­ven­tor Boyan Slat presents his plans for the In­ter­cep­tor, a plas­tic-gath­er­ing float­ing de­vice, in front of a video of a pol­luted river, dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion in Rotterdam, Nether­lands, Satur­day.

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