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Rivers are vital for our daily lives, providing us with drinking water and food to eat. However, once pristine, our rivers are now becoming polluted every day. This is an issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Many organizations have taken remarkable river cleanup initiatives worldwide to combat this issue. River cleanups play a pivotal role in preventing tons of plastic waste from entering our oceans and helping maintain sustainable ecosystems.
Here’s a list of the eight best river cleanup initiatives around the world:
Chao Phraya translates to “River of Kings,” and is one of the world’s longest and most polluted rivers. A 0.9=mile long canal called Lat Phrao flows from this river while passing through one of Bangkok’s heavily populated communities. Around 120,400 people reside in this region.
TerraCycle Global Foundation, the non-profit branch of US-based recycling company TerraCycle, Inc., took the initiative to clean up the Chao Phraya River in 2020.
They installed two plastic cleanup systems on the canal (with two outstretched booms that have nets attached). The major aim of the two nets is to catch debris that floats below the water. On the other hand, the booms are fitted with a metal collection trap.
The foundation has successfully removed around eight tons of plastic waste from the river so far. On top of that, the foundation also runs a program to educate the people of the Lat Phrao Canal about plastic pollution and how they can reduce it.
The Tijuana River connects Mexico and the United States and is considered one of the world’s most polluted rivers. Pollution in this river is a massive concern for the people of Mexico and the US since it’s the major source of drinking water for many of them.
To handle this problem, Wildcoast, a Mexico and California-based non-profit group, has initiated a system across the Laureles Canyon to remove plastic waste from the Tijuana River. This system is called “Brute Broom.” It consists of a floating boom with a metal screen to collect debris.
The group was the first to establish the community’s first recycling initiative. It also runs a program to educate the community people about reducing plastics use.
Chemolex Company, a social enterprise, has come up with the idea to join forces with non-profit Smart Villages to clean up Kenya’s Athi River. They have installed ten plastic-capturing devices along the river and its tributaries – the Ngong and Nairobi rivers.
In addition to that, the company placed fences across the River Athi to divert more than a thousand tons of plastic from the Kenya waterways, which is then removed from the river using a conveyor belt.
After removing the plastic, they use the recycled waste to produce building materials, including roofing, pavement tiles, and plastic fencing poles.
Ocean Conservancy, a US-based non-profit group, is on the mission to clean up Vietnam’s Song Hong River. For this, they have teamed up with the “Center for Marine Conservation & Community Development,” setting up traps to capture debris.
For this quest, they use locally designed, unique cleanup tools that are inexpensive. The traps consist of two floating (with mesh) to guide floating plastic toward a trap attached to the riverbank through a bamboo platform. This allows for easy maintenance and emptying.
This initiative has successfully removed around 992 pounds of floating waste from the Song Hong River to date.
This river ranks among the world’s heavily polluted rivers. Generation Foundation, an Indonesian NGO with Waste4Change and RiverRecycle, established a plastic capture system to remove twenty to a hundred tons of waste daily.
They have placed active concentration modules along the Citarum River to guide debris to a collection point where the waterways can lift it using a collection wheel.
Once the waste is removed from the river, it is used for biofuel. On the other hand, non-recyclable plastic is converted into low-sulfur fuel to support this project financially.
Ichthion, an award-winning eco-solutions organization, has developed a high-tech idea to clean up the Portoviejo River.
The company has developed the Azure barrier (a floating curtain that operates in rivers and other coastal regions) by combining water-flow dynamics, material and modeling transport, and data on river pollution.
This system has sensors that measure the captured debris to provide policymakers with a useful data source, helping them tackle river pollution challenges.
The Ocean Cleanup, a Netherlands-based organization, has taken steps to clean up Jamaica’s Kingston Harbor River by deploying interceptor technology in the waterway. The interceptor prevents the floating waste from entering the Caribbean Sea.
In addition, barrier and conveyor systems extract debris from gullies and return it to the shore for disposal or recycling. On top of that, the organization has teamed up with local NGOs to educate the Kingston community about reducing plastics use.
The Juan Diaz River is among the world’s most polluted rivers. This pollution problem needs to be addressed before it’s too late. Keeping this in mind, Marea Verde, a Panama-based non-profit organization, installed a water-wheel-powered system to capture debris associated with this river.
The organization has placed barriers along the river to divert plastic waste to a collection point, where waterways will lift it using an electrical conveyor belt. Once the waste is lifted, the waterways will take it to the shore for recycling and proper disposal.
On top of that, the system also uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to categorize the collected waste, improving the project’s data collection capabilities.
Rivers are a vital source of sustenance, providing clean drinking water and food to eat. However, nowadays, more and more rivers are becoming polluted. This pollution also impacts the biodiversity and ecosystems of the rivers. It’s an issue that we need to address as soon as possible. People need to take inspiration from the river cleanup initiatives mentioned above to tackle river pollution challenges before it’s too late.