Plastics are everywhere, right from our office to the oceans. According to the Ocean Conservancy, around 8 million metric tons of plastics enter our oceans every year, on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently circulate our marine environments. At the current rates, plastic is expected to outweigh all the fish in the sea by 2050.
A massive amount of plastics, which isn’t biodegradable, threatens the existence of life underwater right from smaller fish to huge mammals in numerous ways. Considering the increase in the disposal of plastics in the ocean, a few startups around the world are taking possible measures to combat this problem.
First Bubble Barrier in Westerdok
Recently, the first Bubble Barrier was deployed in the Westerdok in Amsterdam, in a bid to make the city of Amsterdam, a global pioneer in the fight against plastic pollution.
The Bubble Barrier was placed by The Great Bubble Barrier and commissioned by the water management board of ‘Amstel, Gooi and Vecht’ and the municipality of Amsterdam. The Westerdok in the Westelijk Havengebied is one end of the monumental canals of Amsterdam and an exit to the river IJ.
Furthermore, the IJ flows into the North Sea Canal, and this leads directly to the North Sea. This makes Westerdok an ideal place to catch Amsterdam’s canal plastic.
How does it work?
The Bubble Barrier is a curtain of air bubbles, created by pumping compressed air through a perforated tube which is placed on the bottom of the canal. The rising bubbles form an upwards current, which brings the plastic to the surface of the water.
Due to the diagonal placement in the waterway, the Bubble Barrier uses the natural flow to guide the plastic to the collection system at the riverside.
As per the company claims, the Bubble Barrier works 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and does not interfere with shipping and the passing of wildlife as well.
This women-led startup was founded by Anne Marieke Eveleens, Francis Zoet and Saskia Studer in 2017 in Amsterdam. The company has so far raised €550k funding.
Collects 3,500 kg of waste from Amsterdam daily
Waternet, an organisation that manages all water affairs within the city of Amsterdam, daily collects 3,500 kg of waste from Amsterdam’s water during working hours, which includes a large number of plastics. In a year, the organisation removes around 42,000 kilograms of plastic from its waterways.
Sander Mager, director of the Amstel, Gooi and Vecht Water Management Board, said:
“Plastic in our water is becoming an increasing problem, also for the work of the water management board. It has profound effects on the quality of our water and, therefore, on everything that lives in or near the water. This is precisely why it is important for the water management board to collaborate intensively with others to make a stand against this socially urgent problem. The innovative Bubble Barrier in Amsterdam is a good and important example of this.”
Collected waste will be investigated by the Plastic Soup Foundation!
With the Bubble Barrier in Westerdok, the Amstel, Gooi and Vecht Water Management Board is looking for a solution that captures floating plastic and smaller plastic waste up to 1 millimeter. However, with the current collection methods in Amsterdam, only plastic which remains inside the city is removed and only pieces that are larger than 2cm.
Marieke van Doorninck, Municipal Councillor for Sustainability, said:
“The municipality of Amsterdam is also committed to stopping the pollution of the canals and the outflow to rivers and the open sea.Although we want to prevent plastic waste as much as possible through new measures and the installation of enough waste bins, a lot of plastic still ends up in the canals with or without intent. I am therefore delighted to enter into a partnership with the water management board to do something about canal plastic.”
Main image credit: The Great Bubble Barrier
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