Interviews with Innovators – WasteShark: Continuously working to improve water quality

December 22, 2022

In the United States, South Korea, South Africa, Australia and various places in Europe, the innovative cleaning robot WasteShark is already being used to fish floating debris out of the water. Since last week, one has also been ‘swimming’  through the canals of Zaanstad , the first in the Netherlands. And that is striking, because RanMarine, the company behind the WasteShark, is located in Rotterdam. We interviewed the creator and CEO Richard Hardiman and the Dutch consultant Peter Kwakernaak about this smart cleaning robot and the plans that lie ahead.

Litter fishing

The idea for the WasteShark came to South African born and raised Hardiman in 2009 over a cup of coffee in Cape Town. “I had some spare time during my studies and went to get a cup of coffee at the V&A Waterfront. As I sat there I saw two men fishing garbage out of the waters of the harbour with a long net. They did it that way every day. I come from a family of engineers and immediately thought: ‘Surely there must be more efficient ways?’. My thoughts ran wild and I soon had the first ideas for a robot that fished up the litter in my head. I had no destination for it at the time, but the idea stuck in my head for a few years anyway. Eventually someone said to me: ‘if you don’t do anything with it, someone else will’.”


That was about the same time Boyan Slat drew attention to his ‘Ocean Cleanup’ and the problem of plastic in the oceans. This made it clear to Hardiman that there was a real need for cleaner water solutions to prevent microplastics from reaching the oceans. He decided to further develop his idea and build a prototype. “Once that was done, I thought it was time to start working with people who can do this much better than me,” says Hardiman with a laugh. In 2016, for example, he came into contact with the Port XL Accelerator program in Rotterdam. After a selection procedure, the innovation was further developed at the  RDM  site in Rotterdam with the help of experts and investors.

richard-hardiman-interview-waterrecreatie-nederland-wastesharkAbout three years ago, RanMarine went on its own two feet. It was decided to no longer work with external consultants, but to employ the developers in order to create more connection with the product. The company now employs about 25 people and is working on new models. An office in the United States (Florida) has also recently been opened.


On its own website, RanMarine describes the WasteShark as an ‘Autonomous Surface Vessel’ or ASV for short. The name refers to the whale shark -or Whale Shark-, which swims slowly on the surface water and eats plankton there. The WasteShark does the same thing, but with floating litter. It is a kind of catamaran with a basket between the floats in which the junk is collected. The hull is powered by two electric motors. There are two versions, a remote-controlled one and a ‘smarter’ one that can be programmed to keep an area clean without bumping into anything. A total of about 6 hours can be sailed, during which a maximum of 350 kilograms of waste can be ‘caught’. The WasteShark itself has a weight of 72 kilos and is small enough to be transported in a car.

“The idea has always been to catch ‘fresh plastic’ while it still floats on the surface. Then it is still quite easy to fish out of the water. Before it breaks into pieces or can become microplastic. It becomes more difficult if it disappears under water or is carried by the current to the sea.” says Hardiman. “We found out that one of the reasons there was so little waste disposal was because it was just a hassle. For example, if you need a boat to reach certain places. So we had to make that easier and we succeeded with the WasteShark.”

The WasteSharks don’t just fish waste out of the water. Especially in the United States, they are also used to remove excessive algae growth and thus contribute to better water quality. In addition, the WasteSharks can also collect data about water quality, such as acidity and temperature. Those interested can find a demonstration video of the WasteShark on YouTube .


There are now about 70 WasteSharks in operation worldwide, including at major parties such as Disney, the United Nations, Houston Harbor and the World Wildlife Fund. They are used in various places, such as amusement parks, (marina) harbours and nature reserves. Hardiman adds: “I have always had the feeling that we are really a Dutch company. But we just don’t have many customers here. That is the goal for the coming years, to have more WasteSharks swimming around in our own country”.


That is also one of the reasons that Peter Kwakernaak is connected. The two have a connection via South Africa, where Kwakernaak had a  guesthouse for a while  . Back in the Netherlands, the native Hagenaar had the desire to undertake more sustainable activities. “So I started helping Richard to further expand his network in the Netherlands. There was something very beautiful in Rotterdam, it cannot be that a pearl of Dutch  green tech  is Rotterdam’s best kept secret.” says Kwakernaak.

Expand in the Netherlands

Both do not see the fact that the roll-out in the Netherlands is not yet automatic as something negative. Hardiman: “The adoption of ‘ new-tech’  always takes time, especially in a more traditional sector such as the maritime sector. In other countries, such as the US, this is faster. I don’t see that as a bad thing, it ensures that everything here in the Netherlands remains nice and stable. So we have to let our products prove themselves, so that they will also be bought here. Zaanstad is a first example of this, we receive good feedback and data that we can also use for other cities. It is also not a product that you are immediately convinced of after reading the brochure, you have to see it for yourself. We will be organizing many demonstrations in the coming months, visiting trade fairs and this is how the WasteShark will have to prove itself.”

“Fortunately, we are already seeing that happen,” Kwakernaak adds. “A number of users have now opted to expand the ‘fleet’ and purchase more WasteSharks from RanMarine. That is of course a good sign. Together with an expansion of our portfolio, I see significant growth in the coming period.”


Kwakernaak sees many opportunities for what they call ‘sponsorships’ for a further expansion of the fleet. “You could also use the WaterShark as a floating advertising column for your branding , while cleaning the water in the meantime. For large brands that want to make a sustainable contribution, it becomes so attractive to really do something and at the same time bring their brand to the attention in a positive way. Or, for example, in combination with a water festival such as Amsterdam Pride, where the water is unintentionally polluted.”


When asked about the dream scenario for the future, Hardiman is clear: “My dream is that we can deploy zero-emission, battery-powered robots all over the world to contribute to clean water. In addition to fishing for waste, we can also take measurements and thus monitor the quality of the water. I dream that we will soon have thousands of them sailing around the world, collecting data. I hope the WasteSharks become as normal as the robot vacuum cleaners or robot lawnmowers. So that we are constantly working on improving water quality all over the world. At the same time, I am aware that this is only part of the solution. Fortunately, a lot is already being done to reduce the use of plastic and prevent pollution.

Kwakernaak adds: “We are currently working on a larger robot, the MegaShark. It is intended to be used in somewhat rougher water, possibly also at sea. We think that they can be put to good use there, for example for cleaning and taking measurements around wind farms. If you were to send a boat there now, the windmills would have to be stopped. With our unmanned  sharks that’s not necessary. In addition, we are now working on the ‘OilShark’, the concept of which has now been devised. This would allow us to clean up oil and other nautical fluids if they end up in the water. And what might be a nice dream for the future is that all large ships, for example superyachts and recreational users, have a WasteShark on board to help clean up the mess in the water or in the port where they moor and thus jointly bear the responsibility for clean water .”

Read the article by Waterrecreatie Nederland on link

This robot shark cleans the Zaanse canals

December 15, 2022, 3:56 PM Modified December 15, 2022, 5:02 PM By Mischa Korzec

The WasteShark is an ‘aquadrone’ that will keep the canal clean of litter, hopes the municipality of Zaanstad. Today it was presented to the public and the new directors of the waste and cleaning service. The shark must keep the Gedempte Gracht clean of the large amount of waste that visitors to the city center throw into the water. Because the Gedempte Gracht is frozen, he was allowed to enter the Zaan for this time.

Link to video

This robot shark eats the Zaanse canals clean – NH News

“We used to have a four-metre shovel and then you couldn’t reach everything,” says Aad van der Wal. He and his colleagues Erik and Wendy can’t wait to pilot the aquadrone. Wendy Fischer lets the men try first, “but I think it would be fun to sail that thing in the canal.” The remote-controlled boat owes its name to the ‘whale shark’ and with a little imagination you can see that in it.

Rubbish Eater

The municipality has baptized the aquadrone “Veulvreter”, the name came about from 130 entries that the city received for the device. Alderman Wessel Breunesse is the first to play with the boat today. Concentrated, he sails the Wasteshark over the Zaan, while Aad throws some cans into the water for the shark to eat. “I hope everyone sees that we are doing everything we can to keep the canal and the center clean.” He therefore calls on visitors to throw their waste in the waste bins as much as possible.

Read the article by NH Nieuws on the above link

Interview with RanMarine

RanMarine is the creator of the world’s first commercially available marine drone that collects both waste and data from the world’s waterways. It’s line of industrial remote controlled and autonomous “Sharks” help government bodies and companies concerned with the economic, regulatory, and aesthetic impact of polluted water efficiently remove surface trash and biomass while preventing imbalances in their marine environments.

From estuaries and urban ports to inland rivers and lakes, RanMarine’s multipurpose drones incorporating advanced AI are inspired by nature and restore waterways back to their natural state with zero emissions, limited noise, and a fraction of the investment compared to other methods.

Interview with Richard Hardiman, CEO of RanMarine Technology.

Easy Engineering:  What are the main areas of activity of the company?

Richard Hardiman: RanMarine Technology is an autonomous robotics scale-up specialising in the autonomy of vessels/Aqua-drones on water to clean waste from our waterways.

E.E: What’s the news about new products?

R.H: RanMarine is launching a larger version which is capable of removing 1 ton of  waste in a single load, this has been developed over the last few years and will be on sale towards the end of 2022.  We are also developing a docking station which houses up to 5 WasteSharks at a time, empties their baskets automatically and recharges them making it a total autonomous solution where humans are only required for oversight.

E.E: What are the ranges of products? 

R.H: Our primary product, using the company’s proprietary autonomy and robotics software, is the WasteShark. The WasteShark is designed to robotically harvest plastic and biomass waste from urban waterways in smart cities, ports and harbours. Additionally, to waste harvesting the drone also collects water quality data and depth measurements. The RanMarine team is constantly researching and developing new products and expect to launch new products in the coming months.

E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active? 

R.H: The market is still in early stages and more focus is now being placed on biomass and plastic waste and there are very few competitors  in the market but this is growing.  More and more companies are coming with solutions.

E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?  

R.H: There are a number of companies in and around Europe researching and developing solutions to clean waste from waterways.  We have been successful in that our product can be operated autonomously as well as manually and can move in tight spaces.

E.E: What are the most innovative products marketed?  

R.H: The WasteShark is the first in its kind as an autonomous robot removing plastic waste.  Other solutions in the market trying to address the issue of plastic waste are The Ocean Cleanup and the Sea Bin.

E.E: What estimations do you have for the rest of 2022?  

R.H: We have two new products, ready in prototype phase, which will be launched in the next 4-6 months.  In addition, we are looking to expand to the USA market and opening an office later this year.

Read the article on Easy Engineering

Halkiopi”: A marine drone in the… “battle” for the cleaning of Thermaikos

The marine drone has the ability to collect up to 160 liters of trash per voyage

“Halkiope” is a marine unmanned floating waste collection vessel. It was bought on behalf of the municipality of Thessaloniki from the Netherlands. It is the first time that it is tested in Greece and more specifically it will sail in the waters of the Thermaikos Gulf.

The marine drone it has the ability to collect up to 160 liters of garbage per trip, which ends up in a special built-in removable bin. It will be handled from the shore at the points where the largest amount of waste is concentrated on the seafront of Thessaloniki, such as the port, the White Tower, the Sailing Club and the Kellarios ‘Ormos.

The first tests in the waters of Thermaikos for “Halkiopi” have already started and will continue until next summer in order to assess the efficiency or any weaknesses so that it can be improved, while it will work in addition to the already existing vessel that cleans the sea area at regular intervals by other agencies.

At noon, another waste collection test took place in the presence of the mayor of Thessaloniki, Konstantinos Zervasof the vice-mayor of the Environment, Erotokritos Theotokatos, but also of private companies that contributed to the operation of the marine drone at the height of the Sailing Club.

“Thermaikos gulf got a shark, a garbage shark. We are very happy that in the effort to keep Thermaikos clean we have another tool in our hands. It is very important that the municipality of Thessaloniki has a high-tech product, a drone that we can use to collect floating pollutants. “The more weapons we have in this effort, the more optimistic I will be that our city will become more attractive and more beautiful,” said Mr. Zervas.

Mr. Theotokatos, for his part, underlined that “the sea is the sensitive part of the environment, it is the mirror of our city and we must protect it”.

“Halkiopi” is expected to operate additionally initially once a week, mainly when there is a severe problem on the beach, while at the same time actions will be taken to raise awareness among citizens to protect the sea from plastic waste.

Also included in the pilot actions is the study of placing traps (nets) in two selected stormwater drains, in order to investigate the possibility of their use, with the aim of reducing the floating materials that end up in the sea in cases of heavy rainfall.

How technology can help clean water for resilient cities

Article by NLPlatform

How can we tackle the challenges of too much, too little and too dirty water. Many water challenges are man-made and can only be tackled collectively. This is why we want to take action on World Cleanup Day 18 September, with our NL Waterway Cleanup which we are organising with embassies worldwide.


It may seem like a drop in the ocean, but around the world millions of people will participate in local cleanups both on their own and in groups, on and off the water, on beaches and river banks, in parks and streets. The power of together means that each and every one of us has impact. With this event we hope to create awareness because in order to maintain the planet as we know it, we have to take action, not only to prevent litter ending up in the water, but also to clean up waters which are already polluted. And that is where technology can help.

In the 1960s and 70s, Dutch waterways suffered from fish mortality, bad odours and polluted lake beds, riverbeds and sea beds. Since then, the Dutch water authorities have introduced various innovative drinking water and wastewater treatment techniques. As a result, this has led to a chlorine-free drinking water. While all domestic wastewater is treated in one of the Netherlands’ 350 sewage plants, commercial wastewater is often pre-purified by the discharging companies themselves before being sent to the sewage plants.

Sharing enabling technologies

The Netherlands is eager to share its innovations to accelerate solving challenges for cleaner waters, by sharing enabling technologies for cleaning wastewater. Not least because at present 80percent of wastewater worldwide is released into the environment without adequate treatment. In fact, 95 percent of the water we use is thrown away. Indian water technology firm Aquarius H2O Dynamics recently applied nanofiltration techniques developed by Dutch company NX filtration to remove dye from wastewater in the textile industry. This enables 95 percent of the wastewater to be recycled without intensive pre-treatment.

The Netherlands continues to invest in water technology by connecting business, knowledge and government. A great example is Wetsus, supported by 100 companies 23 universities and running 60 projects. The Netherlands Wetsus institute hails as a centre of excellence for sustainable water technology. Wetsus is part of the WaterCampus located in Leeuwaarden in the North of the Netherlands, where water technology companies are encouraged to collaborate with water technology institutes from all over the world. By combining their strengths and sharing knowledge Wetsus makes no attempt to conceal its ambition to become an international hub of water excellence. Zero-emissions, mineral recovery, and reducing energy use are at the heart of the institute’s research which includes groundwater technology, smart water grids, resource recovery, advanced wastewater technology and desalination amongst other things.

Innovative solutions to clean up litter

Eight billion tonnes of plastic litter enters our oceans every year. That is a lorry-load every minute. As well as being unsightly on our beaches, marine debris adversely affects the fishing and tourist industries, costing jobs, reducing local revenues and damaging ships. Every year marine debris costs the international community over 60 billion euros in clearing, repairing and losses. In the Netherlands alone collecting marine debris costs more than 10 million euros. The EU fishing industry faces an annual bill of 65 million euros thanks to plastic soup; and damage to shipping vessels also runs into the millions. Simple but effective interventions can turn the tide on plastic pollution in our waterways, preventing the accumulation of plastic soup in our oceans.

While some innovations prevent plastic pollution, others tackle it after it has already entered the waterways. There are innovative solutions like The Great Bubble Barrier, which simply pumps air bubbles through a perforated tube lying on the river bed. The bubbles block plastics flowing downstream and guides them to the surface and towards the riverbanks where it can be collected easily in a catchment system. While acting as a screen against plastic pollution the bubble barrier does not disturb marine life. Nor does it interfere with vessels on the waterways. However, the bubbles do reduce noise pollution, as it cuts down the sound of shipping traffic. The Great Bubble Barrier technology has been implemented in the river IJssel and in Amsterdam’s waterways. The catch of Bubble Barrier Amsterdam is currently being analysed by the Plastic Soup Foundation.

Artificial Intelligence

High tech solutions include the WasteShark by Ranmarine, which combines artificial intelligence with autonomous surface vessel (ASV) technology. The compact device is the first of its kind able to fish up marine debris in urban harbours or waterways and safely deposit it in a larger SharkPod to be disposed of. As it uses AI, the WasteShark learns from experience, thus increasing its efficiency and speed. It is also small and agile enough to get into the corners of any harbour or waterway.

Dutch water and subsurface consultancy Deltares, has the technology to monitor waste streams and prevent them from finding their way into waterways leading to the oceans. By creating various scenarios through models the consultancy can demonstrate the effectiveness of interventions which prevent waste at source. This better informs government decision-makers to help them intervene efficiently. In the European MICRO project, Deltares’ transport models predicting the accumulation of plastic particles in marine waters and sediment. This makes it possible to measure the impact on the tourism, the economy and nature.  Deltares is also developing models for the European CleanSea project, and is involved in waste stream monitoring in Indonesia.

Boyan Slat’s Ocean Cleanup uses Deltares’ marine model of coastal waters off the Japanese island of Tsushima to tackle the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This cleanup organisation has also implemented its interceptor technology to prevent plastic waste from the world’s worst polluting rivers reaching the ocean. And by recycling the plastics recovered from the ocean, Ocean Cleanup is creating value from waste products.

Cost of marine debris

Civil engineers from Delft University of Technology have developed the Fleet Cleaner, robotic technology, which fixes itself to a ship’s hull using powerful magnets. This innovative gadget cleans the hulls of ships using high-pressure water jets, capturing fouling as it goes. The system has a filter system which removes fouling releasing clean water back into the sea, earning it the Maritime Innovation Award in 2018. Cleaning a ship’s hull increases fuel efficiency by up to 10 percent, reducing fuel consumption and harmful emissions. It also helps collect the waste particles that otherwise would end up in the ocean. As it filters out all impurities, Fleet Cleaner can be used in port. As no human divers are required, cleaning can take place during loading and unloading.

Inspired by the Water as Leverage programme, we have initiated the NL Waterway Cleanup. Simply by joining us and millions of others on World Cleanup Day, we can make a difference, raise awareness and prevent plastic litter on land from becoming plastic soup in the oceans.

Join us on World Cleanup Day 18 September and help us turn waterways back into healthy lifelines between cities and oceans. Organising an NL Waterway Cleanup yourself? Put your own cleanup on our NL Waterway Cleanup map now and contact us at info@nlbranding.nl for the event kit full of tips and tricks.