Klang, Malaysia: Scooping waste from a Malaysian river to stop it reaching the sea, a solar-powered barge named the “Interceptor” is the latest weapon in a global battle to rid the world’s waters of plastic.
Trash is being dumped into seas and rivers in enormous quantities, polluting vital habitats, endangering a kaleidoscope of marine life and sullying once pristine tourist spots.
Some eight million tons of plastics enter the world’s oceans every year, from straws tossed into gutters to mismanaged waste from rapidly growing economies, according to US-based group Ocean Conservancy.
But as governments and environmental protection groups struggle in the face of the growing tide, a Dutch non-profit group — The Ocean Cleanup — has come up with a novel solution in the form of the Interceptor.
The 24-metre-long (78 feet) vessel resembles a large houseboat and uses a curved barrier to catch waste floating downstream.
The trash, much of it plastic, is directed to the “mouth” of the barge — which operates autonomously and silently — from where it rolls up a conveyor belt and is dropped into dumpsters.
The barge can collect up to 50 tons of waste a day.
In October an Interceptor was stationed on the Klang river, a heavily polluted, major Malaysian waterway which flows through the capital Kuala Lumpur and its surrounding areas.