For sustainable society


“WasteShark” for removing plastic waste

In 2050, the sea could have more plastic waste than fish. Who would have imagined that plastic waste would outweigh fish? Humans have polluted the sea too much. To the question, “What can we do or what do we have to do to prevent waste from spreading any further?”, we have two answers: collecting the waste drifting in the sea and not throwing waste into the sea. So, what comes to mind when you hear the collecting method? Most people would imagine the way that divers (people) get into the water and collect them. Amazingly, a robot has been developed that automatically collects waste in the sea.

The autonomous garbage collecting robot was developed by the drone technology company RanMarine Technology, a startup in the Netherlands. The robot named “WasteShark” is modeled after the whale shark, which is the world’s largest fish and eats efficiently. Now, it looks like a whale shark opening mouth to eat, isn’t it?

WasteShark can collect not only plastics and plants such as floating grass but also micro-plastics that are regarded as difficult to remove. It helps prevent garbage from flowing into the sea by collecting and removing them from canals and rivers. It can be operated for up to 8 hours on a single charge and reliably identify spots where garbage is accumulated with GPS, and it also has advanced technology that allows you to program the collection process and monitor it remotely. It dimensions 1.5m in length and 1.1m in width and has a carrying capacity of 200 liters. In addition, it also collects not only garbage but also data on water quality at the same time.

RanMarine Technology has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, and the WasteShark has already been used in several countries, including Cape Town in South Africa and Dubai Marina in the UAE.  In the UK, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Sky Ocean Rescue have jointly introduced the WasteShark at a port in North Devon. The collected garbage will be recycled in cooperation with partners.

Marine waste is not an event only happening overseas. According to the Ministry of the Environment’s “FY2016 Survey Results of Marine Litter,” as a result of estimating the ratio of plastic bottles collected at each survey point by manufacturing country, foreign-made plastic bottles accounted for more than 80% in Amami and for about 40 to 60% in Tsushima, Tanegashima, Kushimoto, and Goto.  Looking at these figures, you should not think that there is nothing for us to act. You may think that your actions will not have any impact since the waste are coming from foreign countries. However, it has been reported that foreign-made plastic bottles accounted for less than 20%, and those made in Japan accounted for about 50 to 70%, in Nemuro, Hakodate, and Kunisaki. From these figures, you can’t say that you don’t have to care about marine waste because it is an issue in foreign countries. Of course, we should not throw garbage into the sea, and it should be preferable that we take responsibility for removing garbage that has already been discarded.

Photo: RanMarine Technology

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