This new invention sucks plastic out of the water, where it can then be taken to be recycled. The 52-foot trash wheel floats on the side of a river in Panama City and sucks up plastic, and pulls it up on a conveyor belt. Panama City launched a plastic collecting wheel and technology named Wanda Diaz and modeled it after the infamous Mr. Trash Wheel, which was first installed in Baltimore’s Harbor in 2014. Wanda Diaz is in the Juan Díaz River and runs completely on hydropower and uses solar power as a backup.

Source: El Espectador/YouTube

The next step for the project is to use a camera system with artificial intelligence that can identify the garbage, which researchers can use to design new strategies to eliminate plastic waste before it even enters the rivers in the first place.

Before emptying into the Panama Bay, the Juan Díaz River flows through mangroves and mudflats. These are vital ecosystems, and it is essential to protect them from plastic pollution. They provide protection for coastal communities, sequester carbon, and foster significant biodiversity. According to the Clean Currents Coalition, around 1,000 humpback whales visit the protected Panama Bay each year to nurse their young. The area also serves as a refuge for over 20 species of migratory shorebirds.

Recently, another project called The Great Bubble Barrier 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.

Researchers in the Netherlands and Germany made a list of the 1,000 rivers that are contributing the most plastic pollution into oceans. They found that the 1,000 rivers are responsible for 80% of the ocean’s plastic emissions each year.

Sign this petition to demand that U.S. state governments force plastic-producing corporations to pay for the costs they’ve inflicted on our environment!

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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