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Bubble barrier to the rescue

Free the Ocean Blog

Bubble Barrier to the Rescue

The newest hero in the fight against pollution isn’t a cutting-edge gadget or some futuristic tech. It’s bubbles! In a remarkable twist of innovation, a group of Dutch sailors and surfers turned entrepreneurs have devised a brilliantly low-tech way to intercept and capture river trash – and it’s been making quite the splash in the Netherlands.

Unassuming Yet Effective

Meet the Great Bubble Barrier, our new champion in the crusade against plastic pollution. This nifty solution involves placing a perforated tube along the riverbed, producing a shimmering curtain of bubbles that guide waste to the riverbanks for collection. Amazingly, this bubble barrier is adept at catching even tiny plastic particles as small as 1mm, intercepting a whopping 86% of litter originating from rivers. But the Dutch startup, born out of a passion for preserving the ocean in 2017, isn’t prepared to sit back and let this happen.

From Concept to Reality

Their bubble barrier spans the full width and depth of the river, diverting waste into a clever catchment system that gathers and compacts the waste, ready for collection. The first bubble barrier was installed on a waterway in Amsterdam in 2019, and its success led to the deployment of a second one in mid-western Netherlands at the mouth of the Old Rhine river after locals raised concerns about plastic pollution littering their beloved beach.

The Great Bubble Barrier Expands

Working tirelessly 24/7, regardless of water levels, the Great Bubble Barrier allows aquatic life and river traffic to pass unhindered. Its success in the Netherlands has spurred plans for more bubble barriers in Portugal and Germany.

As Francis Zoet, co-founder of the startup, puts it, “Rivers are the highway to our oceans, transporting pollution all the way there. Our Amsterdam system is preventing 8,000 pieces of plastic from reaching the North Sea each month. But we don’t plan to stop there: the first international systems are on the agenda, and we can’t wait to tackle pollution across our borders.”

This ingenious lo-fi solution brings new hope in the fight against plastic pollution, proving that sometimes the simplest ideas can create the biggest ripples!

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