The Amsterdam-based start-up The Great Bubble Barrier is the winner of the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge 2018. The revolutionary air bubble curtain that catches plastic in riverbeds before it arrives at sea receives 500.000 euros to further develop the innovative solution to combats the plastic soup in the oceans.

‘The prize money will help us to attract new talent, but also to develop our own plastic capture system,’ The Great Bubble Barrier co-founder Anne Marieke Eveleens said in reaction to the election. ‘In addition, we can now put in a “Bubble Barrier” in the Netherlands.’

Diagonally placed barriers will bring the plastic to the shores

The Great Bubble Barrier was founded by Eveleens together with Francis Zoet en Saskia Studer to address the immense plastic soup problem. Every minute, the equivalent of one full garbage truck of plastic trash is dumped in the sea, The Great Bubble Barrier website mentions. That is 1440 trucks per 24 hours and in total 8 billion kilos per year. With 80% of those plastics coming directly from land.

The Bubble Barrier creates a barrier of air bubbles which stops plastics from flowing past, while allowing fish and ships to pass through it unimpeded. The air screen not only catches plastics floating on the surface of the water, but thanks to the upward flow of the barrier also picks up plastics floating in lower water columns. When placed diagonally, the natural current is used to guide the plastic to the riverside, where it can be easily collected.

The system already has been tested in May 2017. Plans are to install a Bubble Barrier in one or more cities during large events that take place on the water, like Amsterdam’s GayPride.