On October 26th, 2019, the OceanCleanup unveiled the Interceptor, a new invention created to clean up garbage-filled oceans.
The OceanCleanup is an environmental organization, created by Boyan Slat, that is dedicated to finding innovative ways to clean the plastic out of our oceans. After a couple of years of tests, they have finally launched their new prototype in two locations: Jakarta, Indonesia along the Cengkareng Drain River, and Selangor, Malaysia along the Klang River.
What the Interceptor does is float along rivers (which can be controlled remotely or be anchored in place) and deploys a wall to push all of the incoming or floating garbage into the mouth of its machine. The plastic is then swept onto a conveyer belt, pushed by the natural flow of the river water, and taken up into the middle of the Interceptor. There, using scanning technology, the Interceptor will determine how much plastic/garbage is being collected and dump it accordingly into giant dumpster bins located underneath the conveyer belt along the middle of the machine. The Interceptor can hold up to 50 cubic meters of trash—that's 17 tons of plastic. This process is repeated until the bins are full, and then all it needs is a maintenance crew to come and empty it. Then it goes straight back to cleaning.
The Interceptor has solar panels located along on its top and is fully powered by the sun. This is important because the Interceptor is not relying on any diesel fuel, which would need to be manually re-filled, or a grid connection, making it able to go anywhere. Along with that, it has an interactive monitoring system that allows you to check the health of each component, change the mode of cleanup, and when the bins are full and in need of collection, each ship will send a text message to alert a cleaning crew. All of these functions can be manually done from the machine and remotely online. It is also designed to withstand waves, wind, rain, or snow. And because it has lithium-ion batteries stored within its hull, it can use solar energy to power its system day and night, even on days where the sun does not come up (like in Alaska at certain times of the year).
You may be wondering, why are we talking about rivers and not the ocean? Well, as the research team at the OceanCleanup found, 80% of the plastic entering the oceans stems from only 1,000 rivers in the world. Their goal is to stop plastic before it reaches the oceans, and clean up the garbage that is already present. They aim to tackle plastic in those 1,000 rivers by 2025. They already have two Interceptors deployed in two of the most plastic-ridden rivers of the world and currently, have two on the way to Vietnam and the Dominican Republic.
Even though these great new inventions will help lessen the amounts of plastic floating into the oceans and from polluting our freshwater rivers, we need to stop this waste at its source: humans. The only way to actually reduce garbage pollution is to stop producing, manufacturing, and carelessly throwing out plastic items. I implore you to take the extra time to separate your trash from what can be recycled, skip the plastic bags at the grocery store, and try to live in a more sustainable way. Because the only way for things to change is for one person to take a chance, and all they need is people who are willing to join. So please join Boyan Slat and the OceanCleanup in preventing plastic from entering our oceans, because you have the power to help too.