Germany-based enterprise Plastic Fischer has invented a floating barrier that aims to prevent tons of plastic waste from entering the oceans. ‘TrashBoom’ is a modular solution made of locally available materials that uses simple technology at a low cost that even developing countries can afford. Avoiding high-tech imports saves time, carbon, and money and ensures quick repair and high scalability. Attached with steel mesh that goes 50 centimeters deep, each unit can be connected to others to form a chain that can easily adapt to different river sizes.
Founded by three visionary german students, Georg, Moritz, and Karsten, the company was born in 2019 after a journey to Vietnam. During their accommodation in an apartment in Ca Mau, they realized that the river view from their balcony was actually a stream of plastic, styrofoam, and other waste that was floating on the water surface and heading to the ocean. This view gave them the need to act for a drastic change in marine life. ‘We realised that every single piece that we saw would eventually end up forever in the sea, break down to microplastic and threaten biodiversity and marine life.’ This trip made them aware of the global plastic crisis that threatens the world: 8 to 12 million tonnes of plastic waste end up in the oceans annually. all images by Plastic Fischer | the company follows the ‘triple L approach’ by using locally built and low-tech solutions to operate at a low cost
After their travel, Georg came up with the idea of building a waterwheel that automatically collects the plastic from the river and even lifts it onto the shore. In January 2019, they managed to build it, and when they tested it, it worked perfectly. Motivated by this successful pilot, Georg decided to found Plastic Fischer (see more here) together with Karsten and Moritz in April 2019.
When they moved to Indonesia in June 2019, they immediately tested their idea in a real environment. Unfortunately, the wheel didn’t work due to the low flow speed of the rivers during the dry season. Thereafter, they decided to move to Bandung, where the Citarum River, one of the most polluted rivers in the world, is located. The trio joined forces with the national army that was in charge of cleaning the river. Then the idea of ‘TrashBoom’ came up: a floating fence made out of locally available materials that prevent plastic from heading into the ocean. The plastic waste is manually gathered from the systems on a daily basis and transported to sorting facilities. All recyclables are reintroduced into the supply chain. However, the majority of the collected material is not recyclable and thus, sent to thermal processing at certified incineration plants.
In collaboration with Allianz, Plastic Fischer has started operating in the city of Trivandrum in India, in January 2022. This action strives to stop tons of plastic, all the while creating jobs for local communities. According to their website, for the next three years, the company aims to collect more than 550 metric tons of river plastic and prevent it from entering the oceans. The operations will create up to 25 local jobs to facilitate the cleaning of more than 20 ‘TrashBoom’ systems in drains and rivers of the city.
Currently, the company works in India (Bangalore/Varanasi), Indonesia (Bandung), and has a planned and grant-financed project in Vietnam that is waiting for kick-off. Their aim is to expand massively to other cities in India and Indonesia, as there are many polluted rivers to tackle. ‘We are very proud that we have managed to motivate other companies like e.g. Sungai Watch, Pangea Movement and other NGOs to copy our approach and stop plastic in rivers with simple technology.’
The company achieved another collaboration, this time with ‘Make A Change World’ in Bali to build a second full-scale TrashBoom in no time. According to the design team, the World Economic Forum applauded this action and shared a post about Plastic Fischer on their channels. This gave them a boost to grow faster and spread all over the world, making their technology open source and available for free on their website.
Varuna river, trash collection
each module is attached with steel mesh and can collect plastic up to 50 centimeters deep
this solution carries affordable technology to address this global problem at scale
TrashBoom in Bali
company: Plastic Fischer
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