80% of river plastic
stems from
1000 rivers

Rivers are the main source of ocean plastic pollution. They are the arteries that carry waste from land to the ocean. According to our research, 1000 rivers are responsible for roughly 80% of riverine pollution.

We aim to tackle plastic in 1000 rivers

To rid the oceans of plastic, we need not only to clean up what is already out there but also stop new plastic from entering the ocean – we need to close the tap. Working together with government leaders, individuals, and private corporations, our goal is to tackle these 1000 most polluting rivers all over the world.

Every single year, marine plastic costs the economy (6 to 19) billions of dollars – impacting tourism, fisheries and aquaculture, and (governmental) cleanups. And that doesn’t include the impact on our health and on the marine ecosystem. Intercepting plastic in rivers is much more cost-effective than dealing with the consequences downstream.

Interceptor Solutions

No one river is the same. Factors like river width, depth, flow speed, debris composition, seasonality, and tides all have a major influence on the success of a river intervention. To tackle different types of scenarios, we have a family of technology solutions to choose from, ranging from high tech to low tech. Besides the ones listed below, we investigate the most suitable and effective ways to intercept plastic in other rivers on a case-by-case evaluation, and more solutions will be added to our portfolio.

Interceptor Original

The Interceptor Original is our first river cleanup technology. The Interceptor Original is a high-tech solution with solar-powered mechanics, smart processing, and connectivity for easy performance tracking. It is designed for series production, and in December 2020, we entered a partnership with Konecranes was signed to begin manufacturing for more locations. Due to its autonomous and large cleaning capacity, this is the primary technology we evaluate for feasibility in any new river we plan to tackle. We currently have deployed this technology in four locations: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Dominican Republic, and Vietnam. To learn more, visit our Interceptor Original page:

Boyan Slat and Interceptor 004 in the Dominican Republic
Boyan Slat and Interceptor 004 in the Dominican Republic

Interceptor Barrier

The Interceptor Barrier is a solution that consists of a standalone floating barrier anchored in a U-shape around the mouth of a small river. This intercepts the trash and buffers it until it is removed from the water. The design builds on our experience from our existing Interceptor deployments. In fact, it is a variation of the barrier we use to concentrate trash toward the mouth of a standard Interceptor. The main difference is that, in this case, most of the barrier is permeable and is thereby optimized to efficiently buffer trash in the water.

Kingston Harbour, Jamaica, Barnes Gully barrier
Kingston Harbour, Jamaica, Barnes Gully barrier

Interceptor Tender

The Interceptor Tender was developed to work alongside our Interceptor Barriers. This small powered barge uses a conveyor belt to scoop up the trash from a barrier and offload it into a dumpster onshore. While the Interceptor Barrier is a tool to intercept trash, it’s not capable of extracting and offloading on its own. This is where the Interceptor Tender comes in. This mobile extraction and offloading unit – developed in collaboration with Berky GmbH – is capable of servicing multiple barriers, and we expect to see multiple Interceptor Barrier deployments in close proximity to others. This means that the cost of extraction/offloading equipment is shared over multiple Interceptor sites.

Kingston Harbour, Jamaica, Barnes Gully barrier and tender
Kingston Harbour, Jamaica, Barnes Gully barrier and tender
See the Tender and Barrier in action in Jamaica, Kingston Harbor

Interceptor Trashfence

The Interceptor Trashfence is a waste-capturing chain-link fence inspired by avalanche protection systems and specialized for flash flood environments. The structure is anchored to the banks and bed of a river and captures plastic and other waste along its length for extraction later. Designed for maximum impact in highly polluted and hard-to-reach locations, the Interceptor Trashfence is currently being piloted in Guatemala in one of the world’s most polluting rivers, the Rio Las Vacas, where unique seasonal challenges including huge quantities of river waste and massive water pressure during the rainy season require a custom-engineered and experimental solution. We continue to evaluate variables such as fence height, mesh size, and foundation security during this pilot period in Guatemala.

Interceptor 006, trialed in Rio Las Vacas, Guatemala
Interceptor 006, trialed in Rio Las Vacas, Guatemala

Dashboard

We currently have 9 interceptors deployed in 6 countries. Keep track of upcoming and deployed Interceptor Solutions on our dashboard.

Interceptors deployed LOCATION TYPE
INTERCEPTOR 001 Cengkareng Drain, Jakarta, Indonesia Interceptor Original, Gen. 1
INTERCEPTOR 002 Klang River, Klang, Malaysia Interceptor Original, Gen. 2
INTERCEPTOR 003 Can Tho River, Can Tho, Viet Nam Interceptor Original, Gen. 2
INTERCEPTOR 004 Rio Ozama, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Interceptor Original, Gen. 2
INTERCEPTOR 005 Klang River, Klang, Malaysia Interceptor Original, Gen. 3
INTERCEPTOR 007 Ballona Creek, Los Angeles, USA Interceptor Original, Gen. 3
INTERCEPTOR 008, 009, 010 Kingston Harbour, Kingston, Jamaica Interceptor Barriers and Interceptor Tender

Together we can close the tap in 1000 rivers

At The Ocean Cleanup, we see ourselves as the architects of river projects to stop the inflow of plastic into the oceans. We bring the knowledge (where and how to intercept riverine plastic), provide solutions (e.g. our Interceptors), and use an extensive network to raise awareness, helping to attract funding and financing.

Given the scale and the urgency of the issue, we depend on partners who, by working closely together, can help us in reaching our goal of tackling plastic in the 1000 most polluting rivers.

  • Execute

    Operators
    Our local partners operate the Interceptors to extract the waste from the river and bring this on shore. They work together with responsible waste handlers to sort debris and recycle plastic where possible.

  • Initiate

    Governments and river owners
    Operators need support from (local) governments, who can provide the necessary permits to operate in rivers. Collection fees from governments and cities help safeguard continuity in waste extraction by the operators.

  • Interceptor 005 in Klang River, Malaysia.

    Accelerate

    Funders and sponsors
    Funders, sponsors, and investors make these river cleanups possible and accelerate the deployment of Interceptors. With your help, we can build consortia to clean rivers where it is most necessary.

The 1000 top polluting rivers

Join us in tackling 1000 rivers – by helping to spread the message about riverine pollution and supporting our mission.