It was the early 2000s and Aqua went crazy singing "Life in Plastic is fantastic". We already knew it was irony, but we didn't know it was going to be a horror movie.
Yet at the time nobody worried that much: we came away from supermarkets with kilos and kilos of heavy bags, and sustainable packaging was not even conceivable. Today the alarm is bitter: 5000 billion pieces of plastic are already floating in our rivers and oceans, and the petrochemical industries produce 200 times more plastic than in the 50s (source: National Geographic).
Fortunately, technology and creativity are also evolving, and there are many inventions that make it possible to clean the plastic that infests our planet. Here are 4 that can help limit the damage.
Interceptor, a super barge that collects plastic from seas and rivers
Ocean Cleanup created an invention that floats on rivers around the world to collect plastic. He can recover up to 50 tons of plastic per day: his very intelligent mission is to collect the waste before it reaches the seas. Two houseboats are already in operation in Malaysia, and the creators are looking for sponsors to put at least 1000 “interceptors” in the world's rivers. If you are interested in learning more, we have talked about it extensively here.
Geneseas, the robot that sucks up waste and hydrocarbons from ports, ponds and rivers
In 2018, the French inventor Alan D'Alfonso Peral presented a sort of "autonomous floating vacuum cleaner" capable of collecting waste in ports, ponds and rivers. The Recyclamer, this is its first name, it can collect 65 kilos of waste, and not just plastic: even aluminum cans and hydrocarbons, filtered using a "biotextile" developed by the French University of Limoges. Since then, a few changes and years later, it is now called Geneseas and is the first connected solar robot capable of simultaneously recovering solid waste and hydrocarbons, and travels to the ports of Brest or La Rochelle. Find all the details about the Recyclamer robot at this address.
Jenny, a floating facility to clean up the big plastic Island
The "big island of plastic", also known as the 7th continent, is a plastic waste vortex located in the North Pacific, which would occupy approximately 1,6 million square kilometers. There are 80.000 tons of plastic inside! This is where the waste of the entire planet ends up… Once again The Ocean CleanUp on shields: “Jenny” is a floating, flexible and U-shaped structure, positioned on the 7th continent and towed by two boats. The facility captures the waste with a tight net, then this waste is dumped into boats that take it ashore, where it is recycled. Find it here all the details on Jenny.
The sand sieve of Kenny Paton
Kenny Paton is an eccentric inventor who creates weird but well-designed gadgets - you can find them all on his Tiktok channel Paton Machines. Among the many, there is a sort of sieve that allows you to recover the microplastics found in the sand of the beach. Easier to see than to explain, it is an invention that deserves an industrial design step and massive diffusion.