Innovation That Matters

| Photo source RiverRecycle

A system for recycling river plastic


One innovative system is using a circular economic model to help solve the marine waste problem

Spotted: According to UNESCO, there are between 50 to 75 trillion pieces of plastic and microplastics in our oceans. And scientists estimate that up to 2.42 million tonnes of the plastic entering the ocean every year comes from rivers. Looking to change that is RiverRecycle. The company has invented a technology that effectively rids rivers of plastic pollution, which could significantly reduce the volume of waste that ultimately ends up in the ocean. 

The company deploys waste management systems on the shores of the most litter-ridden rivers in the world, so that the waste can be collected, appropriately separated, and recycled. A floating barrier in the river directs the plastic – and other waste materials – towards a conveyor belt machine on the shore, which brings the waste onto land.  

Organic waste is separated and sent to be composted, while valuable plastics and other materials are sent to be recycled or reused. The low-value plastics that would ordinarily be sent straight to landfill are pyrolised and the resultant oils are sold on as clean fuels. In a circular and sustainable business model, profits from these sales help fund ongoing operational costs of the facility. 

As well as cutting down on unattractive and potentially harmful pollution in waterways, RiverRecycle’s system provides employment opportunities in the recycling facilities for citizens, helping to further boost the local economy. 

Initially established in Finland, RiverRecycle is now active in nine countries, including projects in India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Ghana, and Bangladesh. The company hopes to install 500 of its innovative cleaning and recycling points in the next five years. 

Springwise has spotted many innovations using technology to clean up our oceans. These include a startup turning harmful ocean algae into products and research that suggests microplastics could be cleaned up using sound.

Written By: Anam Alam



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