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  • Logan Young

Ocean Cleanup heads upstream to clean up plastic waste

Source: Ocean Cleanup

The ocean cleanup seems to have a big, audacious goal, which is to clean up 90% of the plastic waste in our oceans. Now, they seem to be taking it a step further or upstream as I should say, by introducing “the interceptor”. A new scalable, autonomous solution to capturing plastic waste from rivers.

Founder and CEO, Boyan Slat said “To truly rid the oceans of plastic, we need to both clean up the legacy and close the tap, preventing more plastic from reaching the oceans. Combining our ocean cleanup technology with the Interceptor, the solutions now exist to address both sides of the equation.“ The idea is to stop plastic from making its way into our oceans by intercepting it in our rivers.

How does the Interceptor capture plastic waste?

To capture the plastic waste from the river, they must first figure out where to place the interceptor. They do this by researching the most polluted rivers, the flow-velocity, the width of the river, and the presence of plastic. With this information, they can then place the interceptor in a way that will make it work on an optimal level.

Once the interceptor is in place it uses barriers to essentially intercept the plastic waste as the water flows, inevitably making the plastic gather onto the conveyor belt. Once it reaches the conveyor belt, the plastic is separated from water and automatically sent onto another barge where it is separated again into different containers.

How Efficient is the Interceptor on capturing plastic?


Each Interceptor is made to be completely autonomous. Meaning there is no need for any human interaction except for emptying the containers when they have been filled.

Energy Neutral

Every electronic on the interceptor is set up with solar energy. The conveyor belt, shuttle, lights, sensors, and data transmission all run on solar power, needing no other energy source to keep it running.

According to the Ocean Cleanup, the Interceptor can handle 50,000kg of plastic waste each day and up to 100,000kg a day in optimal conditions. Which is roughly 18,250,000 - 36,500,000 kg of plastic waste each year from just one interceptor. Not only that, but the design of it has made it quite scalable which will help them meet their end goal, which is to tackle 1000 rivers by 2025.

With the help of introducing the interceptor all over the world, we can finally start cleaning up our rivers and stopping plastic waste before it reaches our oceans. If you found this interesting or want to learn more, you can follow this watch this video here:

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Block, India. “The Ocean Cleanup Launches Interceptor System to Catch Plastic in Rivers.” Dezeen, Dezeen, 29 Oct. 2019,

“Rivers.” The Ocean Cleanup,

Lavars, Nick. “Ocean Cleanup Takes on Rivers of Plastic with ‘The Interceptor.’” New Atlas, 28 Oct. 2019,