#SeaTheBiggerPicture, a Cape Town-based ocean initiative, has come up with an innovative way to tackle plastic pollution on beaches.
The Enviro Buggy is a giant, industrial-sized, vacuum cleaner capable of traversing the sandy terrain of beaches. It was conceptualised by #STBP and developed by Matriarch Generic Engineering.
How it works
– The Buggy sucks up micro-plastics — plastics which are less than 5mm in length —and surface sand.
– It then separates the sand from the plastic using a special sieve system.
– The vacuum is also capable of picking up larger bits of rubbish, which means that beach cleanups can be done more efficiently.
Why it was built?
The Enviro Buggy was created out of necessity, according to #STBP conservationist Tash Krauss in a Business Insider report.
The conservation group were fed up with the exasperating task of trying to remove micro-plastics from the beach, which is “near impossible by hand, even with a large-scale crew,” according to Krauss.
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How it will help the environment
This year, in what has been called an ecological disaster, millions of nurdles have washed ashore on beaches across Cape Town.
Nurdles are lentil sized — between 2 and 5mm — plastic pellets that are used as the building blocks of nearly every plastic product manufactured across the world.
As such, nurdles are the most prevalent form of micro-plastic pollution, it is estimated that approximately 230 000 tonnes of nurdles find their way into our oceans every year.
The Enviro Buggy is perfectly capable of sucking up nurdles, according to Chris Krauss of #STBP, however, there are still some kinks.
He told Good Things Guy: “We have been testing it on Fish Hoek beach and it very easily sucks up nurdles.”
“The filtering of those nurdles and separating them from organic matter is a bigger challenge. We have come up with a better filtration system on version 2 of the Enviro Buggy.”
How to get involved
The #SeaTheBiggerPicture team has monthly clean-up events that are open to the public.
Krauss said their beach cleans “are interactive and fun events where we clean and sort the rubbish we pick up”.
For more information about these child-friendly events visit the #STBP Facebook page.
Room for improvement
The Buggy is capable of scooting across wet sand but needs a team of three to help it along, as the wheels get stuck when it encounters softer parts of the beach.
It also requires a ramp to access the sand, which may prove to be a problem at some of the beaches across the country.
However, the Enviro Buggy is still in its testing phase and the team are still considering various ways to improve it.
To do this, they need funding. If you would like to help visit their website.