“The purpose of the WasteShark is to remove waste, litter (plastics) and harmful algae from the surface of the water. The idea is that, very much like a small autonomous vacuum cleaner… this machine can operate in a similar fashion, cleaning the water constantly,” said Hardiman, who is CEO and founder of RanMarine — the parent company of the WasteShark.
Developed in Cape Town, where the first prototype was built and tested, the product and company moved to the Netherlands where the creator was able to secure more funding after looking for years in South Africa. According to Hardiman, it was easier to scale such innovation in Europe, where tech and plastic pollution focus was heightened in 2015. The product is being used in Africa, the United States, Asia, Europe, Australia and the Middle East.
A second prototype has since been created by RanMarine, an autonomous robot that removes waste without human intervention, returning with waste once filled. The “Shark” removes about 500kg of waste a day without emissions, using a battery that can last 10 hours on a single charge.
Hardiman said the WasteShark could be used to upskill labourers from cleaning with nets to being drone operators. He said the product also collects water quality data using onboard sensors, allowing for remote monitoring. The product can also pick up crude and refined oil, as well as toxic algae to ensure early detection.
“If it is easier and simpler to collect waste using our technology then we should use it — the more waste that is caught the less ends up in our oceans. [The WasteShark] is cheaper, more efficient and doesn’t pollute the environment while doing the job!” Hardiman said. In South Africa, about 3% or 80,000 tonnes of plastic ends up in rivers and oceans, while globally at least 14 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year, affecting aquatic life, human and environmental health.