Plastic Eating Shark


Robot SHARK in River Thames can pick up 1,100lbs of rubbish a DAY

A robotic shark hungry for plastic is to snap up waste in the River Thames as part of efforts to tackle water pollution.

WasteShark is the first marine robot to take London’s river by storm, with the ability to ‘eat’ up to 1,100lbs of waste everyday – equivalent to 22,700 plastic bottles.

The electric shark has been released in Canary Wharf where it can travel through 3.1 miles (5km) of water before needing a recharge.

It comes at a time when plastic waste has almost doubled globally since 2000, with only nine per cent of this successfully recycled, according to an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development report.

But Britvic-owned Aqua Libra, which is launching the shark, hope to combat this by recycling the collected rubbish wherever possible.

WasteShark: Key specifications

  • Length: 61.8 inches
  • Height: 20.4 inches
  • Width: 42.9 inches
  • Weight: 158.7Ibs
  • Max speed: 1.8 mph

Autonomous mode: 6h duration

Steve Potts, Managing Director, Britvic Beyond the Bottle said: ‘Ensuring packaging never becomes waste is a core part of our vision, and we are excited to be bringing the brilliantly innovative WasteShark technology to London in partnership with the team at Canary Wharf Group to help tackle plastic pollution in this revolutionary way.’

While gathering rubbish, the shark will also collect data on water quality in London’s river.

Waste is rife in the Thames and several other British rivers, with warnings issued just earlier today surrounding sewage pollution.

In 2019, five decades of plastic pollution also flowed into the Thames after a decades-old landfill full of toxic waste was exposed by erosion.

The rubbish flooded out from an old tip near East Tilbury, in Essex, and caused serious ‘ecological risk’.

Although London’s WasteShark will be the first to head to Thames waters, other similar robotic sharks have previously been deployed in other areas of the country.

Four years ago, a high-tech aquatic drone was released in lfracombe Harbour in Devon for its first test in the UK.

It could ‘swallow’ up to 130lbs of debris in one trip and 30,000Ibs of waste per year if it ran for five days a week, according to experts.

The sharks have also been successfully launched in a number of other countries including South Africa, South Korea and the UAE.

Their creator Richard Hardiman shared that his ultimate goal is to have ‘millions of WasteSharks’ in waters across the world.

He previously said: ‘I am not against plastic, it is a convenient product. But we do have a huge mountain of plastic waste entering the environment. It’s all about how to recycle plastic even better.

‘We can make great strides in that and the WasteShark can contribute. My dream is to have millions of WasteSharks active all over the world. Not only to collect waste, but also to collect data.’

WasteShark models currently range from £22,000 to £31,000, according to RanMarine, with maintenance costs varying between £900 to £1,300 on a yearly basis.

However, the robot at Canary Wharf is the first example of a lease-to-own option with costs offset by a future purchase of a WasteShark.

The lease prices were not disclosed.

London urban developers, the Canary Wharf Group, also hope the ‘innovative’ technology of WasteShark will spark change in London’s detrimental waste patterns.

Sophie Goddard, director of sustainability, Canary Wharf Group, said: ‘At the Canary Wharf Group we aim to transform urban spaces into extraordinary environments which work for nature as well as people.

‘As part of this we are so pleased to be launching the WasteShark in partnership with Aqua Libra. This innovative marine technology will help us to tackle waste and maintain the environment.’

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