Environment

Trash trap gets to work removing plastic waste from Vietnam's Red River

Trash trap gets to work removi...
A locally designed, inexpensive trash trap has been installed along Vietnam's Song Hong River to remove floating debris such as plastic waste
A locally designed, inexpensive trash trap has been installed along Vietnam's Song Hong River to remove floating debris such as plastic waste
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Local operatives will remove the trapped trash every three days for processing
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Local operatives will remove the trapped trash every three days for processing
A locally designed, inexpensive trash trap has been installed along Vietnam's Song Hong River to remove floating debris such as plastic waste
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A locally designed, inexpensive trash trap has been installed along Vietnam's Song Hong River to remove floating debris such as plastic waste

Removing the vast amounts of plastic waste already polluting our oceans is going to need tackling in a number of ways. But the flow of plastic from rivers also needs to be stopped, and that's what Vietnam's trash traps are designed to do.

They may not look quite as swanky as the Interceptors from the Ocean Cleanup, but the idea is similar. The first in a series of trash traps installed along Vietnam's Song Hong, the country's second-longest river (also known as the Red River), is designed to remove floating debris from the water as it flows towards the Gulf of Tonkin.

"The latest science confirms that we need a suite of solutions to fight ocean plastic pollution, from reducing our reliance on virgin plastics to improving waste collection and recycling to cleaning up the plastic waste that does end up in the environment," says the Ocean Conservancy's Chever Voltmer. "Rivers often serve as a pathway for plastics to travel out to sea, so trash trappers like these are important cleanup tools. What makes this particular model so unique and promising is that it is inexpensive, locally designed, and made from locally sourced materials."

Local operatives will remove the trapped trash every three days for processing
Local operatives will remove the trapped trash every three days for processing

The trash traps are the work of Vietnam's Centre for Marinelife Conservation and Community Development (MCD), which has been testing them in the Song Hong for about a year – collecting more than 18 tons of floating waste in the process. Now, thanks to funding through the Benioff Ocean Initiative's Clean Currents Coalition, more installations along the river and its tributaries in Nam Dinh province are being rolled out over the next two years.

Where the Ocean Project's Interceptor is a barge-like vessel designed to remove plastic as it patrols rivers, the trash trap features floating booms and platforms connected to the riverbank.

During the grant period, a local team will remove and sort trapped debris every three days. Plastic waste such as bottles will be sold to recycling facilities, while lower-grade plastic from the likes of bags and films will be processed at a special facility in Nam Dinh. Data on the operation will be analyzed by members of the Ocean Conservancy and Vietnamese scientists to inform future waste strategies.

It doesn't appear that the solution is designed to deal with microplastics, but with MCD looking to build a network of traps in the Song Hong delta, it could help stem the tide of plastic waste entering the seas and oceans from Vietnam's rivers.

Source: Ocean Conservancy

7 comments
windykites
Most plastic in rivers would not be micro plastic. It takes time to break down, and this would happen in the sea.

Add a refund levy on plastic bottles, to encourage recycling.
paul314
Bonus: jobs for locals.
Nahor
Do they put back the natural trash (leaves, branches, dead animals, ...)? It's nice that they try to get the human trash out, but natural trash can be useful for animals/plants downstream (source of food/nutrients, floating shelters, ...) and help sustain life there.

Just recently I read about "whale fall" in the ocean, which helps life at 1000m below the surfaces for decades if not centuries! I imagine that a tree floating down river after a storm would have similar benefits (although probably not at that timescale)
Bruce H. Anderson
The pictures indicate that the majority of what is caught in the traps is organic refuse.
Username
A brief explanation/illustration of the mechanics of how this thing works would have been nice.
Saigvre
It's an open-meshed vee and it stands in the current collecting the trash line and anyone in a small boat or kayak paying less than 0 attention. Decent enough river stewardship, we'll see whether it encourages more human powered boat errands and shores full of cinnamon (not cassia!) I guess that blue is formulated for longevity?
ljaques
Hmm, 2x4" fencing as a net? that lets a whole lotta crap get past it.
Whassa "refund levy"? Something in Newspeak?
Ideally, every river, globally, would have a pair of Interceptors on it. Then work on harvesting and processing the crap in the 5 oceanic gyres.