Meet the Powerhouse Barge That Loves Cleaning Rivers!

Thanks to “The Interceptor” catamaran, the Klang River has turned back time.

Feb 20, 2020

A solar-powered barge is making waves cleaning up Malaysia’s Klang River. Aptly named “The Interceptor”, this cleaning powerhouse is a 78-foot-long vessel that prevents plastic and other trash from even entering the ocean by collecting it upstream. It’s a catamaran that glides across the surface of the river, channeling plastic toward a conveyer belt. And it’s collecting an impressive 50 tons of waste daily, catching trash that gets pushed in by the river’s current before its conveyor belt then moves that debris into six dumpsters that float underneath a separate barge.

Non-profit Ocean Cleanup, started by Dutch entrepreneur, Boyan Slat, when he was just 19, has partnered with local government company, Landasan Lumayan, to treat the pollution-ridden river. One of the 50 most polluted rivers in the world, the Klang River flows through the Malaysian capital city of Kuala Lumper, and moves 15,000 tons of debris into the ocean annually reports Breaking News Asia

The Interceptor has already made a tangible difference: “The Klang River was like a floating landfill,” reveals Syaiful Azmen Nordin, Managing Director of Landasan Lumayan. “Boats could not pass through, and there was a lot of plastic. Now you can see the river is generally free from floating debris.”

The Interceptor collects waste in conjunction with seven other barriers placed along the river and is part of a larger initiative by the Malaysian government. Approximately 50,000 tons of garbage have been diverted since the river clean-up initiative launched four years ago.

Treating river waste is a critical part of preventing plastic from reaching the ocean, because most ocean plastic funnels through massive river waterways. Furthermore, according to Ocean Cleanup’s website, 80% of such river plastic comes from just 1,000 waterways around the world.

The organization’s goal, therefore, is to eventually install Interceptors at every one of these polluting rivers. So far, two such barges are in use, the other being active in Jakarta, Indonesia.

According to Wired, Slat, now 25, is the driving force behind the Ocean Cleanup’s ambitious agenda. Slat’s original goal in creating the vessel was to help treat the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, assorted floating clusters of debris in the north central Pacific Ocean. However, after the original mechanism broke in half, and was sent to Hawaii for repairs, he followed the advice of scientists and other experts. He decided to treat the plastic problem before it reached the ocean by addressing river pollution.

We’re happy to report that Interceptors are going global! There are plans to send more barges to Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, Thailand, and the United States.

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HILLA BENZAKEN, CONTRIBUTOR
Hilla Benzaken is a dedicated optimist. Her happy place involves cooking, acting, gardening, and fighting for social justice. She writes about all things sustainability, innovation, and DIY.