The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has caught everyone’s attention but solutions to overcome the world’s largest rubbish dump have failed spectacularly. German architecture student, Marcella Hansch, realized she would have to look at a smaller and more viable method of collecting the garbage spewed out into the ocean when her own Ecodesign winning invention failed to take off. She zeroed in on rivers as the source of 80% of the garbage which finds its way into the ocean and came up with specialized boats with a conveyor ramp that can skim up to 20 tons of trash per day from rivers and lakes. The boats are deployed where they are needed the most -- a ten-day run in the German Danube yielded more than 7,000 pounds of pure plastic. The boats are equipped with cameras, a drone and artificial intelligence (AI), to analyze the trash to detect what can be salvaged and re-cycled. The technology also helps to detect the entry points of the pollutants and understand who the biggest polluters are. Future plans include deploying simple boats and platforms in Africa and Asia, “so that locals start seeing trash as a valuable commodity that can be recycled,” says Hansch.

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