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Barrier to collect floating waste in river without impeding fish to be installed: 'This could save us hundreds of hours'

"We were going out on kayaks and it was inefficient."

"We were going out on kayaks and it was inefficient."

Photo Credit: UOcean

You may have heard the expression "fight fire with fire," but what about "clear up plastic with plastic"?

An environmental project from UOcean is set to install a floating plastic barrier on the River Soar in Leicestershire, England, to collect waste carried by the water source.

According to the BBC, the new addition will be added to the river in March 2024 and will cost nearly $32,000 (£25,000) to produce.

The barrier will spread from one riverbank to the other and feature a 30-centimeter skirt (around 12 inches) below the water's surface. The tubes that help keep the barrier afloat will be adorned with the names of local businesses that donated money to bring the project to fruition.

While gathering up floating trash that would otherwise leach harmful chemicals into the water and potentially be swallowed by river-dwelling creatures, the barrier will not be detrimental to the passage of fish, who will be able to swim under the submerged skirt.

In addition to helping remove harmful single-use plastics —  typically made from polluting dirty fuel — from the river, the barrier will save the time and effort of volunteers, who have fished out 10,000 kilograms (22,000 pounds) of rubbish from the river in three years.

"We were going out on kayaks and it was inefficient," UOcean founder Chris Desai told the BBC.

"UOcean volunteers will clear litter from the boom, and this could save us hundreds of hours each year picking up litter along the 2-kilometer stretch of the River Soar, which runs through the park," Leicestershire City Council's James Lovatt said. "This project should help to keep the park clean, protect wildlife and help highlight the blight to our waterways caused by plastic pollution."

While the efforts of volunteers are certainly laudable, rivers should not be in such a dire state to begin with. Perhaps the biggest issue is the presence of single-use plastic, like disposable water bottles and snack wrappers, which easily end up in rivers and lakes. 

There, they can damage the ecosystem, harm aquatic animals, and gradually wear down into microplastics that can enter the bodies of humans via drinking water. Thankfully, scientists are finding ways to remove these tiny particles from water supplies.

But using reusable bottles and food packaging is still important to reduce litter that causes untold environmental damage. 

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