Bubble barrier to catch rubbish operational in Amsterdam’s canal

The world’s first rubbish barrier made entirely from bubbles has been unveiled in Amsterdam in an attempt to catch waste in the city’s canals before it reaches the North Sea according to The Guardian.

The bubble barrier is a long, perforated tube running diagonally for 60 metres across the bottom of the canal. Compressed air is pumped through the tube and rises upwards, and then the natural water current helps to push waste to one side. It is trapped in a small rubbish platform on the side of the Westerdokskade at the tip of Amsterdam’s historic canal belt.

The first operational barrier in Amsterdam – due to run 24 hours a day for three years – aims to supplement dredging operations, which currently collect 42,000 kg of larger plastics from the Dutch capital’s waterways each year. Bubble barrier waste will be separately collected, then analysed by plastics action group Schone Rivieren (Clean rivers).

Tests have shown it can divert more than 80% of flotsam.

“More than two-thirds of plastics in the ocean comes out of rivers and canals – so if you have to intercept it, why not do it in the rivers?” says Philip Ehrhorn, co-inventor of the technology. “You can’t put a physical barrier in a canal: it has to be open for wildlife and recreation.”

The hope is that the innovation will help to address the mounting crisis of plastic waste in the ocean. Estimates suggest as much as 8m tonnes of plastic ends up in the world’s seas each year – the equivalent of one truckload of old bottles, trays and containers every minute.

Read more about the project in The Guardian.

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