Bubble barrier technology was created and placed in the Oude Rijn river in the Netherlands to help stop plastic pollution from reaching the ocean. The bubble barrier is a barrier where a 120-meter stream of rising bubbles, along with the water current, pushes plastic waste to one side so that it can be collected.

Source: The Great Bubble Barrier/Youtube

Dutch startup, The Great Bubble Barrier, had a pilot in a canal in Amsterdam in 2019 and led them to secure €470,000 in investments to finally build their river bubble barrier.

“We place a perforated tube on the bottom of the waterway, at an angle, and then pump through compressed air: the rising air bubbles create an upward current that will lift plastic from the water column to the surface, and then at the surface – together with the flow of the river – it is all pushed to one side,” explains Philip Ehrhorn, the chief technology at The Great Bubble Barrier. “Here, we get the flow from the pumping station, or the wind can also push trash into the catchment system.”

Source: Claar-els van Delft/Youtube

Plastic is a growing problem in the area, with the Oude Rijn river carrying the waste into the oceans. The great thing about the bubble barrier is it does not harm animals and will not prevent migration in fish. However, most plastic does not enter the ocean through rivers. While this will be a great help, it cannot be the only solution.

Globally, we produce 300 million tons of plastic every year, 78 percent of which is NOT reclaimed or recycled. Around  8.8 million tons of plastic get dumped into the oceans every year! 700 marine animals are faced with extinction due to the threat that plastic poses to them in the form of entanglement, pollution, and ingestion. 50 percent of sea turtles have plastic in their stomachs. By 2050, 99 percent of all seabird species will have ingested plastic waste. According to a study by the World Economic Forum, there will be one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish by 2025, and if things go on business as usual, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.

Read more about how companies like Facebook, Tupperware, Google, Dove,  Budweiser, Carlsberg, and FIJI Water are working towards reducing plastic pollution. Places around the world like Tel Aviv, California, Baltimore, Scotland, and many more are banning various single-use plastics, and others are coming up with creative ways to recycle and use plastic waste.

There are products you may be using or habits you may have that contribute to plastic pollution. Learn more about how the use of Teabags, Cotton Swabs, Laundry, Contact Lenses, Glitter, and Sheet Masks pollute our oceans so you can make more informed decisions going forward. There are also numerous simple actions and switches that can help cut plastic out of our lives including making your own cosmetics, shampoo, toothpaste, soap, household cleaners, using  mason jars, reusable bags/bottles/straws, and avoiding microbeads!

To learn more about the impact of plastic waste, please read the articles below: 

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