Each year, eight million tonnes of plastic waste finds its way into the oceans. Much of this pollution is carried from cities to the sea, via rivers.
Now, innovative solutions are emerging to help clean up these waterways, like WasteShark, a water-based cleaning robot that removes floating pollution.
In recent days, the residents of London's Canary Wharf might have noticed a strange waterborne robot floating in the Thames. The WasteShark machine's mission is to eliminate floating waste in order to prevent its proliferation in the oceans.
Canary Wharf is a busy financial district of the British capital, where single-use plastic, like coffee cups and food packaging, can cause pollution both on land and in the water.
Developed by a company called Ran Marine Technology, based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, the WasteShark takes the form of a small autonomous floating device powered by an electric battery.
It moves on the surface of the water, silently, without frightening the local fauna. Under its hull, a kind of "jaw" is able to detect waste and swallow it up.
The machine can travel for eight hours on a single charge, while being programmed and monitored remotely. It is equipped with GPS points to ensure it covers the hardest-to-reach areas.
The robot can navigate shallow waters and narrow channels, collecting plastic waste, plastic bags, bottles and other debris floating on the water's surface.
The WasteShark can "eat" up to 500kg of waste per day, the equivalent of 21,000 plastic bottles.
In addition to removing trash, the WasteShark is capable of taking water samples and collecting important data about the aquatic environment through sensors and cameras.
These tools allow the machine to monitor water quality and detect oil and other chemical spills in waterways. This data can then be used to help governments and organisations take action to protect ecosystems and animal species.
The WasteShark is already being used in several cities around the world to clean up rivers, canals or harbours, including Dubai, Rotterdam, Paris, Singapore, and at locations in South Africa and the United States. – AFP Relaxnews