Air bubble barrier traps plastic waste in Amsterdam’s canals

The world’s first rubbish barrier made entirely from bubbles has been unveiled in Amsterdam in an attempt to catch waste in the city’s canals before it reaches the North Sea.

A Dutch start-up, the Amsterdam municipality and the regional water board launched the Great Bubble Barrier, a simple device that channels rubbish – especially small pieces of plastic – to the side of the Westerdok canal where it can be retrieved. Tests have shown it can divert more than 80% of flotsam.

The hope is that the innovation will help to address the mounting crisis of plastic waste in the ocean. Estimates suggest as much as 8m tonnes of plastic ends up in the world’s seas each year – the equivalent of one truckload of old bottles, trays and containers every minute.