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Interceptor: an innovative technology to rid the rivers of plastic waste

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  • Project initiators: The non-profit organization The Ocean Cleanup founded and headed by the Dutch entrepreneur Boyan Slat
  • Project start date : since 2013
  • Project’s funding : individuals, financial groups, private corporations, Dutch government, investors/entrepreneurs, anonymous donors

Context of how the project emerged

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the world’s largest floating plastic landfill, located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California. There are nearly 80,000 tons of plastic waste in an area three times the size of metropolitan France. Following research conducted by The Ocean Cleanup, it has been shown that 1,000 rivers in the world are responsible for 80% of ocean pollution. Of this plastic waste, 90% of it will remain at the surface, i.e. in the first five metres of the water column. This is because it has a lower density than water. Interceptor™ is an innovative technology launched by The Ocean Cleanup in 2019 to remove plastics from rivers, and positioned at their mouths, it prevents new waste from entering the ocean.


Strategy and objectives

The Foundation’s goal is to work with private companies, individuals and government leaders to clean up 1,000 rivers by 2025, and remove nearly 90% of the plastic from the oceans by 2040.

The Interceptor™ solution is a floating system that has been designed to concentrate all plastic waste before it is extracted from rivers. It consists of a 600-metre-long “floater” on the water surface and a 3.5-metre-deep screen to prevent microplastics from escaping underneath. The latter is impenetrable and creates a downward flow allowing marine life to follow its course.

Unloaded dumpsters for transporting waste to recycling centres

Once the plastic debris has been intercepted, it will be guided through a barrier. It will be removed from the water when it reaches the conveyor belt. A shuttle then evenly distributes this debris into six dumpsters using sensor data. Lastly, as soon as the Interceptor™ reaches full capacity, a message is automatically sent to the operators to unload the plastic and send it to local centres where it is recycled




The project’s innovative characteristics


Conveyor belt of Interceptor™ 002 on the Klang River in Malaysia

Efficient capture system:

The Interceptor™ is capable of capturing large debris about ten meters long and microplastics ranging from 0.5 to 5.0 mm.

Replicability of the solution and large storage capacity:

This technology can be deployed on all the world’s rivers, even the most polluted, extracting 50,000 to 100,000 kg of plastic per day. The Interceptor™ can also store up to 50 m3 of plastic waste before sending it to recycling facilities.


The solution uses two natural forces. The first is the wind, waves and currents to keep the system floating. The conveyor belt, shuttle, data sensors and lights are powered by solar energy.


The Interceptor™ is connected to the Internet, which allows it to operate automatically all day long, to notify operators that the dumpsters are full and to have real-time data on the performance of the Interceptor™.


Results and perspectives


At the end of 2019 in Vancouver in Canada, The Ocean Cleanup’s Boyan Slat founder and CEO explained the next steps of the river cleanup project.

Plastic pollution has long-term environmental and economic effects. The solution presented by The Ocean Cleanup is part of a twofold commitment to mitigate the effects of this scourge on marine ecosystems by working closely with the governments and river managers of the countries concerned. Several Interceptors have been deployed since 2019: Interceptor™ 001 on the Cengkareng Drain in Indonesia, Interceptor™ 002 on the Klang River in Malaysia, and soon Interceptor™ 004 on the Ozama River in the Dominican Republic.

The Ocean Cleanup also aims to recycle 100% of the plastics extracted from GPGP to create a sustainable product. This project seeks to retrace the history of this material and to valorize it. Profits from the product’s sale will be used to finance other river cleaning actions in the future.


#Oceans #Rivers #Plastic #Plasticpollution #Technology #Innovative

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Photo credit : The Ocean Cleanup

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