Human beings, we’re a messy bunch. We cover precious land with massive mountains of trash. And when they become too much even for our inured senses, we turn to the oceans and seas in the hopes said mountains will vanish underneath the dark surfaces. Out of sight, out of mind and all that. That’s not how it works, with many wastes coating the surfaces like a thick sheet of guilt.
Various organizations ranging from private enterprise to government have sought solutions, with several turning to technology. Over in Baltimore, MA, the Waterfront Partnership uses a trash interceptor nicknamed “Mr. Trash Wheel” as one means to clean up the city’s Inner Harbor, which had been so polluted that it failed a water quality report back in 2014.
The water wheel, which is solar-powered, uses a conveyor belt to remove trash from the harbor waters and deposit it into a dumpster. It has cleared out 350 tons of trash in 18 months with nearly 7 million cigarettes removed alone by the device. Other eye-watering figures include filtering out 200,000 bottles, and 173,000 potato chip bags.
Waterfront is looking to fund another interceptor for Baltimore’s Canton area.
Across the Atlantic, the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands is using sharks to clean up its share of the water pollution. Obviously, these are not the animals terrifying and thrilling viewers during Shark Week. Instead, the Waste Sharks are car-sized drones, which plow about the waters around Rotterdam and suck trash into their 14-inch “mouths” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A drone can remove up to 1100 pounds of trash during operation.
The company RanMarine is providing four Waste Shark prototypes to the port for use through year’s end.
Too many view so-called “Mother Nature” as literally our maternal figure, the ever-benevolent presence who shook her head as she picked up our latest mess, whether it was that mock volcano project for science class or the oil spilling from the latest motorcycle project we brought into the living room. Well, that’s not how it works in the real world, where nature seems more than happy to take our trash and spew it right back at us with choking air pollution and sewer water. Mr. Trash Wheel and Waste Sharks are hopefully signs illustrating that we as a species are waking up to the fact there’s only one Earth and we have to take care of it to survive.
Images: The Waterfront Partnership, RanMarine