Rotterdam takes action to stem flow of plastic waste into the sea

Rotterdam officially inaugurated three plastic litter trapping devices in the Nieuwe Maas river on Monday. The project includes a further eight platforms to be placed in strategic spots along the river in an effort to reduce the amount of plastic waste entering the North Sea at Hoek van Holland.

The accumulated plastic will be turned into a floating city park, architect and initiator Ramon Knoester told the Volkskrant.

‘If we can manage to collect the plastic in the city and the port we will help prevent the plastic soup in our seas and oceans from growing. It’s a first step towards a plastic-free river,’ the paper quotes him as saying.

Knoester says the three platforms will collect some 10 to 20 tonnes of plastic, the equivalent of a quarter of all the plastic waste travelling down the river.

According to civil engineer Gijsbert Tweehuysen, it is not clear how much plastic waste is travelling down the river. ‘It could be 10 tonnes, it could be 100 tonnes. We simply don’t know. But I do know the Nieuwe Maas is only responsible for a small amount of plastic waste. Much more Maas water, and more waste, is exiting via Haringvliet,’ he told the paper.

But Tweehuysen is in favour of the project as is maritime biologist Jan Andries Franeker of the Wageningen Maritime Research Institute’. ‘It’s a great idea. The more plastic is fished out at an early stage, the better,’ he told the paper.

He is less enthusiastic about the plans to turn the waste into a 150 m2 floating park. ‘I understand it is meant to make people conscious of plastic waste but it’s never a brilliant plan to leave plastic structures in water. The quality of recycled plastic is questionable and you never know what may seep into the environment that way,’ the paper quotes him as saying.

The €200,000 needed to build the platforms was provided by Rotterdam council, the government and private investors.

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