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Ocean Cleanup Sets Its Sights On World’s Most Polluted Rivers

After a year spent tackling the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the Ocean Cleanup company sets its sights on the world’s 1000 most polluted rivers.

After a little over a year of successfully dragging literal tons of plastic waste and pollution out of the world’s oceans, The Ocean Cleanup company has decided to tackle the primary source of ocean pollution: polluted rivers. What’s more, they’ll be doing so with an all-new, state-of-the-art river vessel called the Interceptor.

Interceptor 004, image courtesy of The Ocean Cleanup.

Built in conjunction with Konecranes, The Ocean Cleanup’s new Interceptor fleet is designed to extract plastic from rivers before it even makes its way into the world’s oceans. This is an important step for the non-profit organization, as the company prepares to scale up production of the Interceptor as it tries to reach its stated goal of cleaning up the world’s 1000 most polluting rivers.

And, keep in mind, this is much more than a concept, as there are already four of these things out there, with more to come. Interceptor 004 is on its way to Vietnam, while Interceptors 005 and 006 are currently being manufactured simultaneously at Konecranes’ MHE-Demag facility in Klang, Malaysia. They’re expected to be completed in May 2021, according to the company’s official release. Boyan Slat, the founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup, remarked on his new partnership by saying, “At the end of a very challenging year, I am happy to see series production begin for the Interceptor. It is a necessary step for us to tackle the global flow of plastic pollution to our oceans at scale. I believe Konecranes is well-suited for the job and we look forward to seeing them build many more Interceptors in the coming years.”

It seems like a logical and smart “next step” for The Ocean Cleanup, and it’s a little hard to believe that it was just a year ago — December 2019, in fact — that the group pulled its first load of plastic and trash out from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The First Pull, image courtesy of The Ocean Cleanup.

For their part in all this, Konecranes seems to be genuinely committed to the project — or, at least to raking in the positive press the project generates (which, as long as they follow through, is just as good). “We’re proud to partner with The Ocean Cleanup and harness our global engineering, manufacturing and service capabilities to clean our world’s rivers and oceans,” offered Konecranes’ President and CEO, Rob Smith. “This exciting partnership underscores our commitment to sustainability and a sustainable future.”

The Ocean Cleanup’s efforts have been called “the first proper foray into passive collection of ocean trash,” and the team is putting everything they’ve learned over the past year to work on the Interceptor vessels. The system in use is so good, in fact, that it can pull microplastics as small as a millimeter in size out of the water. These plastics — along with everything else pulled from the water — will eventually be recycled for use in goods that are made entirely out of ocean plastics. “I believe we can use this trash to turn a problem into a solution by transforming this unique material into a beautiful product,” says Slat. “As most people will never go to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, through these products, we aim to give everyone the opportunity to take part in (read: help fund) the cleanup.”

Source | Images: The Ocean Cleanup, via New Atlas.


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I've been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and have been a part of the Important Media Network since 2008. You can find me here, working on my Volvo fansite, riding a motorcycle around Chicago, or chasing my kids around Oak Park.

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