Planet Care

178: Great Bubble Barrier


In 2015, Dutch students Saskia Studer, Anne Marieke Eveleens and Francis Zoet looked at the bubbles of a beer glass in a bar and thought they should do something similar to recuperate plastic waste in Amsterdam.


The Great Bubble Barrier.

Philip Ehrhorn, a German student of naval architecture, had the same idea after seeing a water treatment plant in Australia. After he found out about the plans of the three Dutch women, they decided to join forces in Amsterdam.

Their design, a perforated tube laid across the bottom of the canal with compressed air pushed through, was commissioned by the Amstel, Gooi and Vecht Water Management Board and the Municipality of Amsterdam as an extension of “Amsterdam Clean Water” which strives for clean plastic-free waters in Amsterdam.

The location of the Great Bubble Barrier, the Westerdok, is one of the points where the water flows from the monumental canals of Amsterdam into the IJ. The IJ flows into the North Sea Canal and this leads directly to the North Sea. This makes Westerdok an ideal place to catch Amsterdam’s canal plastic. Tests have shown it can divert more than 80% of flotsam.

Implemented in the fall of 2019, this first Bubble Barrier will run 24 hours a day for three years to supplement dredging operations, which currently collect 92,600 lbs. (42,000 kg.) of larger plastics from the Dutch capital’s waterways each year.


Discover solution 179: Bonds. Green Bonds.

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