The Ocean Cleanup Project installs an “interceptor” in a Thai river

(AFP) – Bags, bottles, cups: all this plastic waste falls from bamboo conveyor belts into the blue containers of a solar-powered boat… this “interceptor” tries to clean up the river that crosses Bangkok, the capital of Thailand.

The Ocean Cleanup Project was launched on the Chao Phraya River. This boat-shaped structure drags a floating barrier behind it and uses the current of this waterway to direct the plastic into the boat’s jaws.

Founded in 2013 by Boyan Slate, then a teenager, this NGO aims to rid the sea of ​​plastic pollution, particularly by preventing synthetic waste from entering the oceans.

“It is very important for us to fight plastic pollution,” Slat told AFP.

“Chao Prayo is actually the biggest source of plastic pollution for the Gulf of Thailand,” continues the 29-year-old Dutchman.

“The Gulf of Thailand is of course very important ecologically, but also economically for tourism and fishing,” he points out.

The Bangkok project, which took about two years to launch, is a research collaboration with local businesses and officials.

This is the NGO Interceptor’s fifth pollution prevention project in Southeast Asia.

Ocean Cleanup, in collaboration with Chulalongkorn University, mapped the currents of the Chao Phraya to determine the best location for its installation – a difficult task given the river’s width of 500 meters and its busy traffic lanes.

Conveyor belts made of bamboo slats, located where about sixty canals join the main river, transport the collected waste to a barge where it is placed in blue containers before being brought back to shore to be disposed of by local authorities.

Penchom Saetang of environmental group EARTH Thailand told AFP that while removing plastic from the river was essential, removing chemical pollutants from the water was just as important.

“There are several causes” of chemical pollutants in the river, she said, “including the use of chemicals in factories and agricultural use.”

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