Ocean Cleanup Readies New Vessels to Tackle World’s Most Polluted Rivers

The company’s third-generation vessels include improvements to the conveyor and barge.
Chris Young
An Interceptor deployed at Rio Ozama in the Dominican Republic, August 2020.Ocean Cleanup

The Ocean Cleanup made its name as a hugely ambitious ocean plastic waste clear-up project, but the non-profit also has a few vessels tackling the problem closer to its source: rivers that carry the waste to the sea.

Now, the company announced that it is increasing the production of these vessels, called Interceptors, with a view to deploying them in a thousand of the world's most heavily polluted rivers.


'Interceptors' tackling river pollution

The Ocean Cleanup currently has three Interceptors deployed on rivers in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Dominican Republic. A fourth has been delayed, but is due to launch in Vietnam early next year.

As NewAtlas reports, once deployed, the Interceptors are anchored to the riverbed. They then use a long floating boom to guide plastic waste into an opening at the front of the vessel, where a conveyor belt moves the waste into bins.

Sensors aboard the vessel alert operators when the bins need emptying. Once emptied, the plastic waste is taken to local facilities for processing.

Ocean Cleanup's expansion plans

The third-generation design of the Interceptors, set to roll out as part of Ocean Cleanup's river plans, includes upgrades to the conveyor, shuttle, dumpsters, and barge.

The Ocean Cleanup announced its plans alongside a new partnership with Konecranes, which will help its project prepare for global expansion of the Interceptor project by helping with manufacturing, installation, and maintenance of future vessels.

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"At the end of a very challenging year, I am happy to see series production begin for the Interceptor," said The Ocean Cleanup CEO, Boyan Slat. "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. I am thankful for their commitment to clean oceans."