Thu | Jul 2, 2020

Kingston Harbour gets US$1 million lifeline

Published:Tuesday | June 9, 2020 | 12:07 AM
The Ocean Clean-up unveils the interceptor, the first scalable river clean-up technology, in Rotterdam, Netherkands, on October 26, 2019.
The Ocean Clean-up unveils the interceptor, the first scalable river clean-up technology, in Rotterdam, Netherkands, on October 26, 2019.

Kingston Harbour is about to get cleaned, thanks to a US$1-million award from California’s Benioff Ocean Initiative to deploy an interceptor, a device which prevents plastic waste in rivers and drains from entering the sea. The innovation is the brainchild of Dutch environmental charity The Ocean Cleanup, and will be deployed in the Hunt’s Bay section of the Kingston Harbour.

It is estimated that more than 578,000 kilograms of plastic enters the Kingston Harbour each year.

The instalment of the fully solar-powered interceptor in Jamaica’s polluted waterway will be in collaboration with local charity Recycling Partners of Jamaica. Once on station in rivers or gullies, the interceptor autonomously extracts the plastic waste and when almost full, it sends a text message to the local operator to come and collect the waste. Plastics collected will be separated at collection centres in Kingston and recycled where possible.

According to Ocean Clean-up, in issue 40 of the Caribbean Maritime, every year millions of tons of plastic enter the oceans, the majority of which spills out from rivers. A portion of this plastic travels to ocean garbage patches, getting caught in a vortex of circulating currents. If no action is taken, the plastic will increasingly impact ecosystems, health, and economies.

“The Ocean Clean-up’s interceptors look set to revolutionise the way we control waterborne pollution. The interceptor is just one method of doing so. Their deployment will make Caribbean waters cleaner and that must be a good thing, but educating people about disposing of plastic into rivers in the first place might be just as beneficial, and Kingston Harbour may also be cleaner as a result,” said Gary Gimson, managing director, Land & Marine Publications .

Speaking with a Jamaica Information Service Think Tank on May 29, Executive Director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority, Audley Gordon, said that the objective for its campaign and National Environmental Awareness Week - June 2-8, themed ‘Compost before you dispose’ - is to foster a reduction in the amount of waste generated for disposal.

It is a joint plea from the maritime industry and governing bodies for communities to practise proper garbage disposal for a healthier environment.

“The shipping industry worldwide is making huge efforts to reduce pollution – both on-board vessels and with the introduction of electrically powered cargo-handling equipment,” Gimson said.