A 25-year-old Dutch university dropout Boyan Slat has revealed on Saturday his invention, a device called “Interceptor” which scoops out plastic waste from the rivers.
Interceptor is a floating solar-powered device that catches plastic out of rivers as it moves past the waste.
“We need to close the tap, which means preventing more plastic from reaching the ocean in the first place,” Slat said, as he described rivers as “the arteries that carry the trash from land to sea.”
Slat earlier created the organization The Ocean Cleanup to develop a system he designed when he was 18 that has the ability to catch wastes floating in the seas.
However, his organization drew flak for only paying attention to the trash already in the oceans.
According to experts, about nine million tons of plastic waste, particularly plastic bottles, bags, toys, flow every year from the rivers, beaches, creeks to the world’s oceans, threatening marine life.
Slat said Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam, already use the device and Dominican Republic will be the next country to utilize it.
Official of Selangor, Malaysia Izham Hashim was present during the launch and he was pleased with the device.
“It has been used for 1 1/2 months in the river and it’s doing very well, collecting the plastic bottles and all the rubbish,” he said.
Slat believes that about 80% of plastic that flow into the ocean come from 1,000 rivers and this will become their project for the next five years.
“This is not going to be easy, but imagine if we do get this done. We could truly make our oceans clean again,” he told his audience at the launch event.
Call for support
The young inventor used his live-streamed unveiling to call for support from countries intending to clean up their rivers, as well as to businesses who would want to provide funding and help with the operation of the machines.
Interceptor is designed to be anchored in rivers and its nose developed to divert away from larger wastes such as tree trunks or branches.
The machine operates by directing plastic waste into an opening in its bow, then a conveyor belt brings the trash into the interceptor’s stomach. By the time it becomes full, it can send a text message to local operators to empty it.
As of now, the interceptor costs about 700,000 euros ($775,600), but Slat mentioned the amount may drop once the production increased.
As per Jan van Franeker of Wageningen Marine Research Institute, who has been a critic of The Ocean Cleanup, said the interceptor seems 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.”
Slat asserted that the impact of not picking plastic waste from rivers to the economy is higher than the cost of purchasing and utilizing such machines.
“Deploying interceptors is even cheaper than deploying nothing at all,” he said.