According to a recent story in the UK Independent, a joint effort by the World Wildlife Fund and Sky Ocean Rescue has taken an example from nature to combat plastic pollution in Ilfracombe Harbor in north Devon in Great Britain. The researchers have deployed an autonomous robot called the WasteShark, the design of which is based on the whale shark. While the whale shark travels the oceans with its mouth open to scoop of plankton and small fish, the WasteShark travels under electric power to scoop up plastic waste.
WasteShark is electric powered and travels autonomously. It fills up with 60 kilograms of plastic waste each trip, returns to base, then goes out for another load after being emptied. The WasteShark’s batteries must be recharged every eight hours. It is estimated that if it operated five days out of every week, it could clear 15.6 tons of waste every year. The WasteShark can be programmed to seek out places where plastic waste concentrates. It also can gather information on water quality while it travels.
The WasteShark was developed by a Dutch company called RanMarine. It is deployed in five countries already. The robot plastic gatherer is said to be quieter and more unobtrusive than other methods of collecting plastic waste.
A WasteShark is automatic and will work around the clock, in theory, to remove plastic waste from harbors and coastlines where it gathers before being pushed out to sea by the tides. Once the waste is gathered, it can be taken to be recycled or safely disposed of so that it cannot pollute the world’s oceans. The method can be scaled up as much as is necessary simply by adding more models of the WasteShark, covering areas where plastic pollution reaches the waterways of the world to stop it from going farther.