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Blue Barriers: how to stop plastic waste from reaching the sea

Blue Barriers: how to stop plastic waste from reaching the sea
Presentation of the first "Blue Barriers" prototype. ©screenshot/SEADS official website
Blue Barriers: how to stop plastic waste from reaching the sea

SEADS (Sea Defense Solutions) has joined forces with Italian and Scottish teams to develop a system christened “Blue Barriers” aimed at collecting plastic waste in rivers, before it is able to reach the sea.

Their observation is a simple one: since studies show that only 10 to 20 of the world’s rivers are responsible for over 88% of all plastics entering the oceans, we might as well make sure that the waste never reaches the sea!

Diverting and collecting river waste

The idea is to position two floating barriers on the river, at a sufficient distance from each other and slightly diagonal to the flow of the water in order to minimise their impact on the life on and in the river and not impede boat traffic. Partly immersed at a depth of just one metre, they let fish through while diverting waste. Upon entering into contact with the first barrier, the current carries the flow of plastic waste to the second barrier and then towards a collection tank. The waste collected in the tanks are then sorted, sold and recycled, and will create wealth for the local populations.

A long-term and affordable solution

Made from steel cables and recycled plastics, easy to maintain and resistant to difficult river conditions, the barriers are intended to be relatively affordable at a price point of approximately € 40,000.

For the time being, the Blue Barriers are still at the prototyping stage but a first experiment is scheduled to take place in March on a tributary of the Rhine. Fabio Delmonte, one of the Italian engineers hopes that the government with which he is in talks, in particular Indonesia, will be convinced by the ingenuity of the system and the need to install it and cause other countries such as Egypt and China to adopt it.

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