Garbage collection in the ocean: 3 innovations to know

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Garbage collection in the ocean: 3 innovation examples to learn from

Garbage collection remains a challenge, not only for many vulnerable communities around the world but also for developed countries and tourist areas.

Garbage in the ocean is a huge problem for the environment

The British organization Verisk Maplecroft already warned in 2019 about a "growing crisis" of garbage, caused mostly by plastic. Global waste production was estimated at more than 2 billion tons per year.

The United States produces 12% of the world’s waste (about 239 million tons), although the country has only 4% of the global population.

By comparison, China or India together generate 27% of global waste while they represent about a third of the world’s population.

If you look only at plastics, there are about 400 million tons a year, of which, according to Greenpeace, only 9% are recycled, 12% are incinerated, and 79% end up in landfills or in the environment.

Plastic is reaching the ocean

Plastic reaches the ocean by the water that is flowing through the landfills, by dumping from ships, or by effluents from wastewater plants. In particular, it is estimated that 8 million tonnes of plastic arrive at sea each year. 

Five major areas of concentration of plastics in the sea have been identified: one in the Indian Ocean, two in the Atlantic (North and South) and two in the Pacific (North and South). These surface areas have a high concentration of microplastics.

High concentrations of plastics can also be found on coasts and coastlines, especially in regions with high coastal populations, with inadequate waste management systems, intensive fishing industries, or high tourism.

Ideally every region in the world should have a proper system for garbage collection and recycling of waste and the control of the landfill of waste. Since this is being implemented in some areas, plastics and generally waste needs to be collected. This remains a big challenge as waste and plastic is dispersed in many areas of the planet. 

We have compiled some amazing innovations to inspire you solving the garbage collection challenge in Chacahua National Park that you can find at ennomotive.

1. Drone Waste Shark for cleaning canals and lakes

Waste Shark is an aquatic drone developed by the Dutch company RanMarine Technology with the aim of sanitizing canals and ports to prevent trash from reaching open water.

Waste Shark collecting garbage in the water

It works by moving in the water and swallowing everything that crosses your path to a depth of 30 cms. It stores up to 500 Kg. of garbage and can travel 3 miles with its rechargeable battery with solar panels. This robot can be directed from a tablet or run in autonomous mode and once full returns to the base to deposit the waste. It can also be programmed to traverse some hot spots of garbage accumulation.

Its movement is controlled by GPS and has a system to avoid obstacles in the water. The Waste Shark is equipped with sensors that allow measuring the depth, temperature, pH and salinity of the water, storing all the information for later analysis.

These robots have been launched in various parts of the UK in collaboration with WWF to protect the near-shore environment, especially plastics.

Take a look at this video to see Waste Shark working.

2. Trash Wheel in the Port of Baltimore 

This innovative system is a wheel developed by the company Clearwater Mills, which rotates a conveyor belt that captures the garbage that arrives by the river in Baltimore and takes it to a container.

Trash Wheel also has photovoltaic panels to pump water over the wheel and help the wheel turn when the river flow is not strong enough to move it.

Trash Wheel in Baltimore

Trash Wheel has a collection capacity of up to 17 tons of garbage a day preventing it from reaching the sea. This garbage is then used to generate electricity for local homes.

Trash Wheel collecting garbage in Baltimore river

It is a very interesting case of technological integration in the environment: The Trash wheel uses the river current as energy (as it has been doing for centuries) but at the same time introduces modern systems of solar energy and recycling. In addition, as the wheel rotates very slowly, it does not present any danger to birds or other animals living in the area.

Click here to see a nice video with the Trash Wheel in action.

3. SeaBin Project

The Seabin project, created by two entrepreneurs, Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski, is part of a larger initiative to end plastic in the oceans. Seabin is a device designed to collect garbage that floats in calm waters, such as in ports.

SeaBin collecting waste in a seaport

It works in a similar way to a vacuum cleaner, sucking the water at the surface level and making it pass through the filter bag. The water is moved thanks to a submerged pump right at the bottom of the bag.

One of the great advantages of SeaBin is that it allows to filter micro-plastics, which are very harmful to the marine environment; For this purpose your bag is developed with special materials and contains a device that allows you to filter other contaminants such as oils and fuels; All this to prevent any waste from reaching the sea.

Take a look at this video to here how the Seabin works. A Seabin unit can collect up to 40 Kg. of debris per day, which means 1.4 tons of garbage per year. Seabins are primarily marketed for use in commercial and sports ports where pollution is high and where marine life is limited.

These three projects are really amazing, and there are many more initiatives going on around the globe. However, what should be the best solution for an environment like the Chacahua lagoons in Mexico?

Join ennomotive to submit your solution for protecting Chacahua and help us cleanup the ocean!