PICS: New plastic gobbling drone pilot project to see 'a plastic-free V&A Waterfront'

2017-12-08 13:30 - Unathi Nkanjeni
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Cape Town - In a bid to tackle a growing environmental problems for marine life caused by plastic, the V&A Waterfront is embarking on a pilot project that will test the capability of a 'plastic gobbling marine drone' known as a WasteShark.

After successfully completing trials in Rotterdam, the WasteShark is set to clean up the oceans in Cape Town this summer. 

Created by former KFM radio DJ, Richard Hardiman's company, RanMarine Technology, the smart drone's trawl the ocean surface picking up as much as 500kg's of trash each, before being emptied and heading back out.

According to Hardiman, the € 20 000 (about R323K at 16,16/€) invention adapts drone technology to produce an autonomous floating device capable of swimming where no man can, to swallow all plastic litter in its path. 

(Picture: Supplied)

SEE: Drone machine cleaning up oceans: Does SA's coastline need this?

Added to that, he says it is cheaper than boats as well as easier to maintain.

“Modern problems like plastic waste in our oceans require modern solutions, and technology can offer this to humans," says Hardiman, speaking on the potential of the WasteShark to enhance this sustainability programme.

"We are now able to bring the WasteShark back home, as it were, thanks to the dedication of the V&A Waterfront and their sustainability values. We are now actively looking to launch the product in South Africa, and are talking to key local and national government entities to execute this.” 

Over the past year, the V&A Waterfront has recycled 2 500 tons of waste and collected and diverted from landfill over 6 300 tons of waste, of which 81 tons came from the waterway and the Marine industry. Approximately 24% of all the recyclable waste was plastic.

SEE: New Ocean Life Festival set to kick off in Cape Town's Waterfront

V&A Waterfront CEO, David Green says the time to act against the scourge of plastic pollution in the waterways is now.

“As the country’s oldest working harbour and one of the most recognised waterfronts in the world, the V&A Waterfront is keenly aware of our responsibility to protect this natural resource.

“For us, ensuring that plastic from the harbour does not end up in the open sea is one way of tackling plastic pollution in our oceans, and the WasteShark offers a remarkably practical way in which to do this,” he says. 

The WasteShark is being piloted with a view of becoming an additional element in the V&A Waterfront’s sustainability programme and already includes a comprehensive waste recycling initiative across the property.

(Picture: Supplied)

SEE: Innovations to save water a global must

The WasteShark machine is powered for up to eight hours with rechargeable marine batteries and is equipped with sensors to feedback the water quality, weather and depth of the harbour basin to authorities. 

With Geography Information Officer (GIO) mapping, Hardiman says this will ensure the drones don’t get in the way of shipping traffic and, they are able to reverse should they collide with anything in the water.

A study by the University of Georgia recently showed that South Africa ranked among the worst culprits for ocean pollution in the world.

In the list of 20 countries that generated the highest volumes of ‘mismanaged plastic waste’, South Africa was ranked number 11 – worse than India, the entire United States and 23 European countries. The worst offenders were China and other Eastern nations.

“Humans are very good at forgetting where waste truly ends up. If it’s not going into some landfill somewhere then odds are it has ended up in a storm-water drain, river or outlet and then off into the ocean never to be seen again, by humans that is,” concluded Hardiman.

(Picture: Supplied)

ALSO SEE: UPDATE: Source of toxic nurdles posing risk to SA's marine food chain found as mass beach clean-up continues

A plastic-free V&A Waterfront on the cards

On Thursday, 07 December, Two Ocean tweeted that Green announced the company's goal to "eradicate plastic bags and bottles from the entire V&A precinct".

Traveller24 reached out to the parties involved but a statement on how the V&A plans to actually do this is yet to be issued.

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