This new fully electric device, called the Plastics Piranha, can collect 100 pounds of garbage at a time. The machine had its first day at the Point San Pablo Harbor in Richmond, California.

Source: KPIX CBS SF Bay Area/YouTube

The robot was created by college students from Cincinnati to help harbors and marinas clear up debris and hopefully prevent plastic waste from making it to the ocean.

“We have to start removing plastics from the water stream,” said Daryl Henline, harbor master at Point San Pablo. “It’s great if we could get rid of plastics at the source. But we know they end up in the water.”

The device, which has been referred to as a Roomba for the water, was created by the startup Clean Earth Rovers. The machine is the first of its kind in the United States. The 5-foot-by-5-foot device floats on two pontoons and two thrusters to help it move through obstacles. Under the device is a large mesh bag to collect debris from the top 5 inches of the water. The CEO confirmed that in tests, no fish were accidentally caught.

According to the co-founder and CEO, Michael Arens, the company will charge $995 per month to use it for both cleaning and water monitoring. The machine can take measurements of temperature, oxygen, and pH levels for pollution, algae bloom, and other common issues.

The 5-foot-by-5-foot device floats on two pontoons, with two thrusters to help it maneuver around obstacles, and it pulls a large mesh bag underneath to collect debris from the top 5 inches of water. (In tests, no fish have been accidentally captured, Arens said.) It can be operated manually, like a remote control vehicle, or autonomously.

“When it’s in autonomous mode it’s actually really cool,” said Arens. “As long as the device is turned on, you can control it. You can send way points to it on the cloud, then it goes anywhere on the map.”

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.

Don’t forget to grab this recycled Solution Not Pollution T-Shirt by zero-waste sustainable brand Tiny Rescue and check out the entire climate change collection!

Sign this petition to join the fight against plastic pollution!

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