Boyan Slat is a young man full of surprises: he amazed everyone in 2013 with his idea to clean up the oceans, based on building a plastic collector in the Pacific. Now he promises to do it again, with the 1000 rivers project. Let's see in detail what this two-phase undertaking consists of and why the talented billionaire has decided to focus precisely on cleaning up rivers to save watersheds from floating waste.
The Ocean Cleanup's mission
The NGO founded by Slat and the first phase of its project to clean watersheds of plastics. It is an ambitious mission born a few years ago: since 2018 its aim is to safeguard the Planet by cleaning the oceans from all kinds of floating waste, in particular the famous plastic island in the Pacific(Great Pacific Garbage Patch).
How? With Ocean Cleanup Systems, unmanned pickers that can clean the seas of plastic. Target: the world's largest plastic island in the sea.
The first ship was powered by solar energy and was equipped with cameras, lights, sensors, antennas...everything needed to communicate with other boats and alert them to its presence. Despite Slat's great technology and extraordinary inventiveness, the craft suffered quite a bit of damage from the weather and had to abandon the mission. This didn't stop the team of The Ocean Cleanup Association, which immediately went back to work to get back to work and reach as soon as possible the frightening floating blob between Hawaii and California.
Prototype number 2 is already in the works and Slat has just announced the second phase of his project to save the oceans, that is the clean-up of the rivers.
80% of plastic in the seas comes from rivers
Why focus on cleaning up riverbanks when you still haven't solved the problem of floating trash in the sea?
The idea is to fight the problem at its root: 80% of plastic in the seas comes from rivers. In the world there are 1000 river basins in disastrous conditions that have been found to be responsible for about 80% of the plastic present in the oceans.
Thousand Rivers Project: intercepting waste at the source in a green way
To ensure that plastics do not reach the seas, it is necessary to stop the waste before the mouth of the rivers; this is Slat's proposal to safeguard the oceans and the marine species that populate them.
The idea consists in cleaning the 1000 most polluted rivers in the world usingcompletely green 'interceptors', powered by clean energy.
The barges are called Interceptors and are 24 meters long; through a system of pipes and barriers they aim to capture millions of tons of plastic and micro-fragments directly in the rivers, just before they are taken to the oceans.
What are the strong points?
- They act as a waste collection barrier
- Barriers anchored to the river bed do not interfere with local wildlife
- They are not in the way of ships and fishing boats
- They run on solar energy
- They move with the motion of the rivers
- They are super silent
- They remain operational 24 hours aday
- They collect from 50 to 100 thousand kilos of waste per day
The most polluted rivers in the world: where the first Interceptors operate
The first 'fleet' of Interceptors is already operational and has ploughed through some of the most polluted waterways in the world, such as the rivers in Jakarta (Indonesia) and Klang (Malaysia).
Of the top 50 blacklisted reservoirs, 44 are located on the Asian continent. Philippines, India, Malaysia, China and Indonesia contribute to about 79.7% of plastic spills in the oceans and it was necessary to start from here to help save the planet. The next steps included barges in Can Tho in the Mekong Delta (Vietnam) and in Santo Domingo.
The goal for the end of 2021? To rehabilitate 10 rivers, between Asia and South America, while from now to the next 5 years the intention is to create and place these barges waste collectors in all 1000 most polluted rivers of the planet.
We at R5 are rooting for this sustainable project!
With our Refill we reduce the consumption of unnecessary plastic and eliminate the transport of water.
(Photo Credits "The Ocean Cleanup")