PortsToronto Network Remove 43kg and Nearly 63,000 Small Pieces of Plastic Pollution from Toronto Harbour in 2023

Toronto (February 26, 2024) – PortsToronto and the University of Toronto Trash Team are
proud today to release the official results of the 2023 Trash Trapping Program’s research
season. From May through October 2023, PortsToronto’s network of trash traps, which includes
eight Seabins and two WasteSharks, removed 43kg of litter, including 62,996 pieces of small
plastic pollution from the Toronto Harbour. This includes items such as plastic pellets, pieces of
foam from food containers, plastic bottle caps, cigarette butts and fatbergs (*see description

2023 Results and Findings
Tiny debris, including microplastics (items smaller than five-millimetres) remain by far the most
common items by count collected by Seabins. Plastic items in the environment eventually break down into microplastics (often irregularly shaped small fragments), which can make it difficult to determine their origins. This year, using the same methodology, the research team has begun to see signs of a decrease in the amount of microplastics collected in PortsToronto Seabins, which could suggest the benefits of additional outreach and education efforts toward waste reduction.
WasteSharks, which are equipped with a large catch basin, captured mostly large plastic
fragments – including large pieces of foam from construction and food containers, hard plastic
fragments, as well as plastic water bottles, caps, cups, lids and straws. Data also revealed that
fatbergs were within the top ten most commonly found items in both the Seabins and the
WasteSharks. *These rock-like masses are formed by the combination of fat, grease and
wastewater materials, including wet wipes and diapers, that are released with wastewater
redirected to the lake during heavy rainfall.
In August 2023, PortsToronto launched a pilot program with two RanMarine Technology-supplied WasteShark aquadrones. This pilot program represented a Canadian first for these innovative trash traps, which are remotely operated and skim the surface of the water to collect floating debris. Over the course of only three expeditions in October 2023, the Toronto WasteSharks “Ebb and Flow” collected 19.2 kilograms of floating trash, including nearly 600 pieces of microplastics. With a larger capacity and remote controlled agility, the Toronto WasteSharks are able to collect a higher volume of debris in a shorter period, collecting nearly the same amount as all the Seabins combined over the entire field season. These can also be piloted into problem areas such as the corners of slips where we know that debris and other material can accumulate.

Background of Program
Since 2019, PortsToronto and the University of Toronto Trash Team have collaborated on the
Trash Trapping Program, which employs trash trapping technology and solutions-based
research to tackle floating debris in the Toronto Harbour. Through this program, researchers
measure and analyse the debris and plastic pollution collected by trash traps in order to track
trends in floating debris, determine the source of the material and use data to identify upstream solutions. This data and key findings and shared in order to raise awareness and encourage behavioural and policy change that could help reduce and prevent floating debris in Toronto’s Harbour. To view detailed data, results and mitigation strategies identified during the 2023 research season, please consult the U of T Trash Team’s website.
The PortsToronto Trash Trapping Program is part of the Toronto Inner Harbour Floatables
Strategy (Floatables Strategy), which is a collaborative strategy with a mission to reduce plastic
pollution and other floating litter in the harbour. The Floatables Strategy incorporates additional methods of and locations for capturing floating debris, including storm drains. Further detail and waste characterization results can be found here.
Follow along with us on social media @PortsToronto and @Toronto_Sharks, and view a video
summary of our 2023 Trash Trapping Program season, here.

“Floating debris and plastic pollution in the water is not a problem unique to Toronto. We know that this is an issue prevalent in urban waterways around the world. What is unique about Toronto is that we have a coalition of like-minded organizations that have come together to find innovative solutions that leverage new technology and local research and trades to help make a difference,” says RJ Steenstra, President and CEO of PortsToronto. “Thank you to all partners who have contributed to the Trash Trapping Program’s progress thus far. We look forward to continuing this important work for years to come.”
“Our collaboration with PortsToronto is invaluable,” said Dr. Chelsea Rochman, Head of
Operations at the U of T Trash Team. “Together, we make a huge impact in our community. We
clean the inner harbour. We collect data to inform upstream solutions. We increase waste
literacy among the public. And, we provide summer jobs to many students that provide training in science and application.”

Fast Facts
 Researchers estimate that 10,000 metric tonnes of waste enter the Great Lakes each
year, much of it plastic.
 A common occurrence in urban waterways, floating debris comes from a variety of
sources – including overflowing or windblown trash bins at the water’s edge, storm water
runoff and industry.
 Anthropogenic (originating from human activity) debris, and microplastics in particular
can harm wildlife and contaminate drinking water, and negatively impact public
enjoyment of cherished shared water resources.

 Since the Trash Trapping Program’s launch in summer 2019, Seabins in the
PortsToronto network have removed hundreds of thousands of pieces of plastic debris
from the Toronto Harbour, moving the needle toward cleaner water in Lake Ontario.
 PortsToronto Seabins are deployed at four locations on the Toronto waterfront and at
the Outer Harbour Marina (4).
 In 2023, PortsToronto launched a pilot program with two WasteShark aquadrones,
known as the Toronto WasteSharks, Ebb and Flow.
 The WasteShark aquadrone is designed to skim the surface of the water to collect
floating debris and waste from the aquatic environment.

About PortsToronto
For more than 100 years PortsToronto has worked with its partners at the federal, provincial and municipal levels to enhance the economic growth of the City of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. PortsToronto owns and operates Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, which welcomed approximately 2.8 million passengers in 2019; the Outer Harbour Marina, one of Canada’s largest freshwater marinas; and, Marine Terminal 52, which provides transportation, distribution, storage and container services to businesses at the Port of Toronto. PortsToronto is committed to fostering strong, healthy and sustainable communities and has invested more than $14 million since 2009 in charitable initiatives and environmental programs that benefit communities along Toronto’s waterfront and beyond. PortsToronto operates in accordance with the Canada Marine Act and is guided by a nine-member board with representation from all three levels of government.

About The University of Toronto Trash Team
The U of T Trash Team, co-founded in 2017, is a science-based community outreach
organization made up of undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, researchers, local
volunteers and staff all working together with a common goal to increase waste literacy in our
community while reducing plastic pollution in our ecosystems. Their local projects
use research to inform policy and management, and education and community outreach to
increase waste literacy, engage the public and implement effective solutions. Their ultimate goal is to inspire an assortment of solutions resulting in the global reduction of waste and healthier habitats for wildlife and people.

About the PortsToronto Trash Trapping Program

The PortsToronto Trash Trapping Program employs trash trapping technology and solutions-
based research to tackle plastic pollution and protect Toronto’s waters for future generations.

Since 2019, the Trash Trapping Program has removed hundreds of thousands of small pieces
of plastic pollution from the Toronto Harbour. It is led by PortsToronto and the U of T Trash
Team, in partnership with Swim Drink Fish, the Waterfront Business Improvement Area (WBIA)
and the City of Toronto BIA Office Innovation Grant, Nieuport Aviation, the Toronto Zoo,
Harbourfront Centre, and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). It is part of the
Toronto Inner Harbour Floatables Strategy, a partnership led by TRCA, and of the International
Trash Trapping Network, an initiative led by the U of T Trash Team and Ocean Conservancy,
and has influenced the launch of similar trash trapping and data collection programs throughout the Great Lakes and beyond.

About the Toronto Inner Harbour Floatables Strategy
The Toronto Inner Harbour Floatables Strategy (Floatables Strategy) is a collaborative strategy
with a mission to reduce plastic pollution and other floating litter in the harbour. It is a
collaboration between the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority the Toronto Remedial
Action Plan, University of Toronto Trash Team, PortsToronto, City of Toronto, Swim Drink
Fish, Waterfront Business Improvement Area, and Harbourfront Centre. Partners in Project
Green oversees the Floatables Strategy on behalf of the Toronto and Region Conservation

Media Contact
Jessica Pellerin
Manager, Media Relations and Public Affairs, PortsToronto jpellerin@portstoronto.com

IoT: Pioneering the Future of Aquatic Conservation in Partnership with Deutsche Telekom [Video]

VIDEO LINK> Explore the synergy between RanMarine and Deutsche Telekom IoT in our exclusive insight into the collaborative efforts reshaping the future of aquatic conservation. Discover how this innovative partnership merges RanMarine’s cutting-edge autonomous aquatic drones with Deutsche Telekom’s advanced technology solutions. Gain a behind-the-scenes look at the impactful initiatives driving sustainable change, tackling global water pollution, and preserving aquatic ecosystems. Join us in unveiling the transformative power of technology and environmental stewardship as we dive into the dialogue between two visionary forces shaping a cleaner, healthier world.

**Joint Announcement: RanMarine Technology and HEBO Unite for Groundbreaking OilShark Aquatic Vessel**

[Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 18/9/2023] — RanMarine Technology and HEBO) jointly announce an exciting collaboration that combines their respective strengths in autonomous aqua-drone technology and maritime solutions. This partnership marks the beginning of a transformative journey to develop the innovative OilShark, a pioneering aquatic vessel engineered to revolutionise oil spill cleanup with efficiency and environmental responsibility.

RanMarine Technology has earned global recognition for its leadership in autonomous aqua-vessel technology, exemplified by the highly successful WasteShark™, designed for waste collection in aquatic environments. Conversely, HEBO, a distinguished Dutch company, boasts a rich history of expertise in maritime and offshore services, encompassing marine salvage, wreck removal, heavy lifting, transportation, and offshore support.

Marius Punt, CEO of Hebo “The fusion of RanMarine’s prowess in autonomous vessel design with HEBO’s comprehensive maritime capabilities promises to yield the OilShark, a groundbreaking solution that will safely, swiftly, and sustainably address oil spill cleanup challenges. Indeed an exciting joint venture that builds on our own company’s maritime and offshore expertise.”

This collaboration underscores the joint commitment of both parties to advancing environmental conservation efforts and setting new industry standards.

CEO and Founder of RanMarine Technology, Richard Hardiman “RanMarine and HEBO are enthusiastic about the potential of this cooperative venture to make a significant impact on protecting our waterways and oceans from the devastating effects of oil pollution. The OilShark will represent a significant leap forward in oil spill response technology, delivering a solution that is not only highly effective but also environmentally conscious.”

The development of the OilShark stands as a testament to both Dutch companies dedication to innovation and unwavering commitment to preserving our precious aquatic ecosystems for future generations.

For more information about RanMarine Technology and HEBO, please visit their official websites or contact their respective media relations teams:

HEBO: www.hebo.eu

RanMarine Technology: www.ranmarine.io

Media Contact: Patrick Baransky

Global Head of Marketing


+31 61 6952175

About RanMarine:

RanMarine is a company dedicated to protecting water and its ecosystems. Our purpose is to empower individuals and organisations worldwide to restore the natural state of aquatic environments. The company’s mission revolves around developing advanced technologies specifically designed for clearing pollution, bio-waste, and debris from waterways. Additionally, RanMarine utilises data-driven approaches to monitor water quality and empower our clients to proactively improve their environments.

About HEBO:

HEBO is a Dutch company specialising in maritime and offshore services. With a proven track record of tackling challenging maritime projects, including oil spill cleanup, marine salvage, wreck removal, heavy lifting, transportation, and offshore support, HEBO has established itself as a trusted partner in the industry.
Disclaimer: The information in this press release is accurate as of the date of publication. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the companies’ official websites or contact them directly.

The plastic-eating ‘robot shark’ cleaning up the River Thames

A robotic shark that gobbles up plastic waste has been let loose in London’s docklands, to clean up the water by removing the equivalent of more than 22,700 plastic bottles per day, according to its developers.

The battery-powered electric catamaran, called WasteShark, can travel up to 5km through water before needing a recharge and collect up to 500kg of plastic and other pollutants as it guides itself through the water.

“WasteShark is a drone on water and it’s designed to sweep the surface of the water and collect trash, debris, biomass out of the water and return it back to land,” Richard Hardiman, CEO and founder of WasteShark’s makers RanMarine said as he watched one of his devices in the water in Canary Wharf.

WasteShark produces no carbon, noise or light pollution as it travels, and poses no threat to wildlife.

It is designed to rid waterways of plastic waste and make sure the plastic collected is recycled and reused.

“We have two versions, one that can be remotely controlled and one that is autonomous, very similar to a vacuum cleaner you might have at home,” Hardiman said.

“The idea is on the autonomous mode that it acts as a drone. So it literally sweeps around the water. You can go and do your job, come back and it should be full and you empty it and then you put it back in,” he said.

Twitter link

The machines also collect data on water quality as they travel, sending back readings on turbidity, salinity, temperature, pH balance, and depth of the water.

Published by RTE

Drone WasteShark removes plastic waste and biomass

Autonomous surface vessel (ASV) WasteShark by company RanMarine Technology vacuums and cleans plastic waste and biomass from water bodies using drone technology. Modeled after a shark, the water vehicle-looking vacuum is designed to be deployed with preset mission routes on the user’s chosen waterbody. By selecting WasteShark’s operating route and predetermining its path, its user covers the region they require waste or data collection. The routes can be saved and re-run as often as needed, depending on the user. The ASV drone also uses GPS routes to navigate to the desired areas and to return home. Light detection and ranging system can be added to the device to avoid collision and enhanced data gathering from the environment. The company – which specializes in the design and development of industrial ASVs for ports, harbors, and other marine and water environments – says that the design of WasteShark allows it to be efficient, long-lived, non-threatening, and unobtrusive, with zero greenhouse and carbon emissions that alter climate change and in-house clean technology tools used for cleaning water. Because of these, the all-purpose waste and data collection ASV can be used in urban, rural, industrial, and leisure environments.
WasteShark has a 10-hour swim time, 5km range of run, and waypoint planning, and it can clear up to 500 kilos of debris per day, run for 3km/h and for six hours in autonomous mode. The company installed 4G technology into its ASV with a 3km radio-controlled guidance and two electric thrusters which it guarantees are mounted with RanMarine proprietary thruster guard technology. RanMarine Technology’s WasteShark is one of the many ASVs the company desires to create in the future to clear plastics, bio-waste, and other debris from waterways. It says that the data enablement of its products allows customers to closely monitor, in real-time, the environment and makeup of their water, producing an accurate picture of the water’s DNA to pinpoint any unquantified concerns. RanMarine Technology products are also designed to be used manually via an onshore operator or autonomously with online control and access such as WasteShark.
Read the full article by Design Boom on this link.

5 Innovative Technologies Saving Our Oceans

Solutions for the seas.

In 2021, the Earth’s oceans reached their hottest, most acidic, and highest sea levels on record. Luckily, many companies and organizations are creating innovative technologies to save our oceans.

Planetary Technologies’ Ocean-Based Carbon Removal

Planetary Technologies is the first climate technology to remove carbon from the atmosphere by using direct ocean capture. Planetary’s proprietary technology safely purifies mine waste into a mild, nontoxic antacid that is released into the ocean. This antacid rapidly enhances and speeds up the ocean’s natural ability to draw out and permanently sequester carbon from the atmosphere. The additional alkalinity in the ocean also restores damage caused by increased acidification. 

Planetary Technologies' ocean-based carbon removal technology to save our oceans
Photo Credit: Planetary Technologies

Additionally, the purification of mining rock produces clean, green hydrogen as a byproduct, which can be used as a zero-carbon fuel source to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels. If all of this wasn’t enough, Planetary’s three-pronged process also involves extracting metals from mining waste, which can be used in batteries. This is essential in promoting an electric-powered future.

In 2022, the company was awarded $1 million from Elon Musk’s XPRIZE Carbon Removal Milestone Award, which it plans on using to achieve a full-scale demonstration of its technology. As Planetary’s CEO Mike Kelland said

“The global community agrees that we need a three-pronged approach to stop the harmful effects of climate change – adapt, reduce emissions and remove carbon – and Planetary’s process does all three, the most critical being our ability to remove carbon dioxide form the air”

Clearbot’s Trash Clean Up and Data Collection

An estimated 11 million pounds of waste are put into our oceans each year. Clearbot is attempting to lower this number with its Clearbot boats. These electric-powered, AI-enabled, and autonomous boats tackle the challenges of plastics, flood debris, and biomass in waterways. 

For example, the three-meter-long Clearbot Neo autonomously collects floating garbage by systematically moving up and down designated sections of water. It skims the surface to scoop up floating trash onto its onboard conveyor belt and uses AI to recognize and log the types of trash collected. The trash is then properly disposed of based on its category. With 4 hours of battery life, Clearbot Neo allows a one-man team to deploy and capture hazardous and pollutant waste of up to 1-ton per day.   See video on https://youtu.be/u2bApYIbCmw

Using its two-camera detection system, Neo also collects valuable data. One camera surveys the water’s surface to avoid marine life, navigational hazards, and other vessels. The second camera photographs each piece of trash that lands on the conveyor belt and transmits its image and location to the company’s data compliance system, hosted by Microsoft’s Azure platform. When the data from these two cameras are merged with other information like sea current and tide, the trash’s source and the water’s quality are more easily identifiable. 

Saildrone’s Autonomous Vessels

Saildrone’s fleet of autonomous wind and solar-powered vessels collect real-time, high-quality data throughout the ocean. This data can be used to inform sustainable fisheries management, detect oil spills, conserve threatened species, map the seafloor, and help scientists understand how the climate is changing ocean ecosystems like coral reefs. 

The company’s wing technology enables a mission duration of up to 12 months; its wind propulsion system allows the vehicles to travel at an average speed between two to six knots under wind power. To date, Saildrone’s vehicles have sailed over 800,000 miles with over 18,000 days at sea with little to no carbon footprint.

Saildrone's Saildrone Surveyor innovative technology saving the oceans
Photo Credit: Saildrone

One of Saildrone’s vessels is the Saildrone Surveyor, which autonomously set sail in July 2021 from San Francisco to Honolulu. The Saildrone Surveyor was created for ocean mapping; its sensors look at underwater ecosystems and map the seafloor to a depth of 23,000 feet. Saildrone intends to map the entirety of Earth’s oceans in 10 years—80 percent of which is currently unmapped. Mapping the Earth’s oceans will help scientists understand climate change processes, the path and strength of tsunamis, and more. 

SafetyNet Technologies’ Selective Fishing Light

Over 9 million tonnes of bycatch are caught globally every year, negatively impacting fishermen, the marine ecosystem, marine biodiversity, and fish stock. In an attempt to lower this number, SafetyNet Technologies created Pisces, a kit of 10 LED lights that fit fishing gear to allow more precise fishing. As a result, users can adapt to regulations, avoid fines, and fish more sustainably.  See video on https://youtu.be/mcbNv_OhFkA

Pisces can be adapted in numerous ways depending on what color, intensity, and flash rate are used, allowing Pisces to work in multiple different fisheries. Its LED lights also significantly reduce bycatch by attracting some species of fish and scaring others away. As a result, Pisces can be adjusted to help catch more of your target species while reducing bycatch. 

SafetyNet Technologies also created CatchCam, a robust underwater camera that allows users to see their gear in action under the ocean. This gives users insights into how fish behave in nets and if their bycatch mitigation methods, like square mesh panels, are working.

RanMarine’s WasteShark

Created by RanMarine Technology, a robotic autonomy technology company, WasteShark is a small robotic device that removes floating waste, plastics, and harmful algae from the surface of the water. This autonomous surface vessel is emission-free and reduces the effects of plastic pollution on the Earth’s oceans. As WasteShark’s founder, Richard Hardiman told Tomorrow’s World Today,  

“Our purpose is to develop technology to make our world a more livable place and ease the pressure humans are adding to our fragile water resources and ecosystems.” 

The robot has 180 liters (47.5 gallons) of capacity, an 8-hour runtime, and can remove 1100 pounds of waste a day. Ran Marine’s DataShark can also collect live data to measure accurate water health quality. This vessel can monitor temperature, depth, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, blue-green algae, crude, refined oils, and more to identify potential contaminants early to minimize their impact on the environment. 

Photo Credit: RanMarine, WasteShark
Photo Credit: RanMarine, WasteShark

At the Consumer Electronics Show in 2022, RanMarine also introduced the SharkPod, which is the world’s first autonomous floating docking station for waste-clearing drones. This tool will be able to deploy, dock, and charge up to five WasteShark drones at one time, allowing for a twenty-four-hour autonomous solution to remove waste from the water. Together with WasteSharks, the SharkPod would be able to remove up to 100 tons of debris and waste per month. 

For more information on the world’s oceans, check out how Earth’s oceans have reached record acidity, temperature, and sea levels, Tomorrow’s World Today’s interview with a National Geographic artist about ocean conservation, NFT’s helping coral reefs, and coral reefs around the world

To read the article by Tomorrows World Today see this link

Sailing drones to clean plastic in the Lauwersoog port

From now on, five sailing drones will be used to fish plastic waste from the port of Lauwersoog. Initiators GPBO and Ran Marine have received a subsidy of almost one million for the Wadden Fund project.

Drones have to clean up plastic in Lauwerseach harbor:

The plastic waste that is collected is given a new destination. With a mobile installation, the material must be processed into, among other things, paving blocks and roof and sidewalk tiles.

In total, the project will cost almost one and a half million euros and it does not stop at the collection of floating waste. It is also the intention that companies in the port hand in their waste plastic before it can end up in the water.

Salinization of agricultural land tackled

In total, 3720 tons of plastic must be processed sustainably every year. In the future, these types of installations can go to other ports for the same purpose. Because the plastic is reused and incinerated, it also reduces CO2 emissions.

In total, the Wadden Fund announced an investment of four million euros on Wednesday. This also involved a plastic and textile recycling project in the Eemshaven and a project to tackle the consequences of salinization of agricultural land.
See full article and video by Omrop Fryslân on link

Why the Amazon region is emitting more CO2 than it absorbs

The Amazon rainforest is the world’s largest tropical rainforest, covering much of northwestern Brazil and reaching all the way up into Colombia, Peru and other South American countries. It’s famous for its incredible biodiversity and is crisscrossed by thousands of rivers including the splendid Amazon river – the largest and longest river in the world.

One in ten known species in the world lives in the Amazon rainforest, making it the largest collection of plant and animal species in the world. The area also covers 3,344 formally acknowledged indigenous territories which make up 9% of the Amazon population. It’s estimated that 310,000 indigenous populations live there. The majority of the forest can be found in Brazil (almost 60%) and the Amazon basin is home to half of the world’s tropical rainforests.

When we spoke about the Amazon region in the past we always marvelled at how much C02 was being absorbed from the environment by this region. Well, that conversation is no longer applicable. Nowadays the Amazon is actually emitting more C02 than it absorbs! Bet you never thought you’d ever see that day arrive. But, sadly, here it is. Our very best friend has turned into a foe.

What is causing the increase in emissions?

Ongoing forest fires in the Amazon, together with ongoing deforestation, is responsible for the situation and impact over 90 per cent of plant and vertebrate species. While trees are growing they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but when they are burned they actually emit carbon dioxide.

Fires and deforestation in this region are causing rising temperatures and moisture stress during the dry season. Temperatures in the region have increased by almost 3 degrees Celsius in comparison to pre-industrial levels.

In 2020 an unbelievable 5.4 million acres were burnt in the Brazilian Amazon. (From the period May to November 2500 fires were reported).

Findings from an almost decade-long research project paint a very concerning picture of exactly what is going on in the Amazon region.

Four atmospheric areas in Amazonia, which spans more than 2 million square miles, were tested twice monthly over a nine-year period. The scientists, led by Professor Luciana Gatti (a female researcher at Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research aka INPE) found that emissions were higher in the eastern area of the rainforest and that the southeastern area is actually putting out more carbon dioxide than it absorbs and it’s therefore no longer a carbon sink. It’s now estimated that up to one-fifth of the Amazon, in total, is emitting carbon dioxide. So, to be clear, it is not the entire Amazonian region that emits carbon dioxide, but only a section. Most of the rainforest still absorbs carbon dioxide. But the fact that one-fifth (or about 20 per cent) of the Amazonian region is now emitting carbon dioxide is adding to our accelerating climate emergency. This is very concerning as it could be showing the beginning of a major tipping point for climate change.

According to a recent study, these emissions amount to a billion tons of carbon dioxide annually.

Amazon fires are set in an ongoing effort to clear more land for beef and soybean farming. (Ironically, Brazil’s soy industry actually loses $3.5bn a year from the extreme spike in the heat following forest fires). Since trees produce much of the region’s rainfall, fewer trees mean drier climates. And drier climates mean more forest fires. It becomes a vicious loop.

Furthermore, the agricultural industry is responsible for a large part of deforestation in the eastern part of Amazonia. Fourteen per cent of the seventeen per cent of forest reduction, to be exact. The Amazon rainforest is home to diverse ecosystems of plants and animals. If extensive forest reduction continues, what will happen to all these living beings there?

What does the future look like for Amazon?

Despite scientists bringing attention to the damage deforestation causes, 2019 was a particularly bad year for Amazonia, even after deforestation was on the decrease over a ten-year period.

In 2009 a study was conducted that showed a four per cent increase in global temperatures by 2100 would kill eighty-five per cent of the Amazon rainforest. This means that the rainforest’s ability to sequester fossil-fuel-derived C02 in the future is becoming severely diminished with each passing day.

According to Carlos Nobre, the man who co-authored the scientific study led by Professor Luciana Gatti, the finding suggests that within the next 30 years the Amazon rainforest could transform into a savanna.

What can we do?

Cutting emissions from fossil fuels is now more crucial than ever before. We must accelerate the move to green energy. We need rainforests to help us absorb carbon dioxide, and thanks to the slow worldwide adoption of green energy, we emitted a whopping 40 billion tons of C02 in 2019.

There is much we can do. We can start off by using public transport instead of driving, find ways to offset our carbon emissions when driving or flying, buy local products instead of importing them, reduce our consumption of paper and wood products, beef and oil and support communities in Amazonia.

Above all, we need to hold businesses accountable. If their business practices are socially or environmentally destructive, they should not receive our hard-earned incomes. We need to educate ourselves to become more responsible consumers. Do you know where and how your products are produced? If not, now is the time to really embrace sustainability and get educated. We need to read the labels on products carefully so we aren’t unwittingly adding to the problem. Alternatives do exist to products that are produced in environmentally destructive ways. Hemp and bamboo are two such examples. Hemp is not only used in clothing and ropes, but in building materials as well (known as Hempcrete and made from industrial hemp.)

We also need to be conscious of the packaging that our products arrive in. Can we ask for biodegradable packaging before we order? Mycelium packaging is the new sustainable kid on the block, and made from mushroom roots. Supply follows demand, so the more people who insist on sustainable packaging, the more sellers and manufacturers will be forced to switch away from plastic, cardboard and polystyrene – products that are notoriously damaging to the environment.

If we make these small changes in our daily lives, we can make a huge difference. We invite you to embrace sustainability so that we can save the Amazon rainforest and eventually help restore the area as a carbon sink.

These are the Top Environmental Engineering Startups in The Netherlands (2021)

This article showcases our top picks for the best The Netherlands based Environmental Engineering startups. These startups and companies are taking a variety of approaches to innovating the Environmental Engineering industry, but are all exceptional companies well worth a follow.

We tried to pick companies across the size spectrum from cutting edge startups to established brands.

We selected these startups and companies for exceptional performance in one of these categories:

  • Innovation
    • Innovative ideas
    • Innovative route to market
    • Innovative product
  • Growth
    • Exceptional growth
    • Exceptional growth strategy
  • Management
  • Societal impact

RanMarine USA

RanMarine USA has merged US operations with the global operations of RanMarine Technology B.V., developer of the WasteShark technology and based in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The WasteShark is a data-driven, autonomous aqua-drone that cleans marine waste, while collecting critical water quality data from local water sources.

The WasteShark is a unique smart city solution which is financially feasible for communities of all sizes and delivers quantifiable results day one. Waste and Pollution Removal – efficiently and effectively removes over 1000+ pounds of marine waste and pollution per day.

Water Quality Safety – collects and analyzes real-time data about water quality to assist with compliance with pollution regulations and identify potential contaminants early to minimize impact on the aquatic ecosystem, environment, and constituents. Biomass Removal – removes biomass (e.g., hyacinths, duckweed, algae) at the surface, which helps maintain aquatic ecosystems and mitigates potential damage to water equipment and facilities.

Oil Waste Collection – designed to operate in confined areas around boats, ships, docks and slips. The WasteShark can be fitted with a special drum oil skimmer for spill collection, and high-quality crude and refined oil sensors can be added for water quality data collection and hydrocarbon detection..

Read full article by The Startup Pill

Global Oil Spills and Modern Solutions

Oil spills have been a threat to the environment ever since freight shipping began in the 1950s. We dive into the dynamic data looking at the current state of oil spills, their devastating effect on the aquatic environment, the unforeseen problems and the modern solutions working hard to keep our waters clean.

Devastating effects

Staggeringly, just 1 litre of oil can contaminate 1 million litres of water. It is estimated that approximately 2.7 billion litres of waste oil enters the ocean every year, this means that about 2.7 trillion litres of water is polluted by oil each year. History has shown that cleaning up this oil is not very efficient and varies widely, with the recovery rate ranging from 5% and 20% of the initial volume spilled. This has caused ever-lasting damage to aquatic life.

The damage caused by oil pollution can be compartmentalised into three major categories:

  • Oil spills can cause severe ecological alterations. The pollution destroys the aquatic organic substrate, which consequently disrupts the food chain, resulting in the extinction of species.
  • Animals that live in or near the ocean often experience smothering from the oil waste, causing hyperthermia, as well as the loss of habitats and shelter during the destructive clean-up process.
  • There are significant clean-up costs required in oil spill responses.
  • Disruption of financial confidence, recreational activities, power generation, agriculture, commercial fishing, tourism, and interconnected industries, such as transport, often follows.
  • Health and safety concerns, as oil waste that invades and pollutes coastal areas negatively affect mental and physical health of population, as well as causing financial stress to the local community.

Global Oils Spill Trend

Unfortunately, reporting of spills is difficult to achieve as data is often incomplete, making it highly unreliable. In the last five decades, approximately 16.6 billion litres of oil have been lost in our waters due to global tanker incidents. However, promisingly, there has been a significant reduction in volume of oil spilt over the last 50 years (cf. Figure 1 & 2). These reported incidents however only relate to major oil spill incidents, classified as medium (7–700 tonnes) and large (>700 tonnes) sizes. Therefore, the true total quantity of oil spills, including small sizes, is both far greater and largely unknown.

Annual number of oil spills

Figure 1: Annual number of oil spills (>7tonnes) over last 50 years, (ITOPF)

Major oil spills since 1967

Figure 2: Major oil spills since 1967 (rounded to nearest thousand), (ITOPF)

In the 1970s, the average number of spills per year was 79 – this figure has now decreased by over 90% to a low of 6 (cf. Figure 3).

Number of SpillsFigure 3: Number of Spills (>7 tonnes) from 1970-2019 (ITOPF)

Location of spills from 1970-2019Figure 4: Location of spills from 1970-2019 (ITOPF)

Why the decline in oil spills?

Clearly, things are moving in the right direction, with oil spills at an all-time low, but why?

The most significant factor causing this decrease in oil spills over the last 50 years has been regulation. This has been in particular with regards to the introduction of the MARPOL 73/78 legislation which has signatories from 156 states. This accounts for 99.42% of the world’s shipping tonnage. The current convention covers spills ranging from bilge washing (failure to notify the government of illegal, but intentional, discharges from ships) to major accidental oil spills due to groundings or collisions; all are subject to severe fines and other significant penalties.

An example is the US Oil Pollution Act of 1990 charges criminal fines of $25,000 per day and/or one year imprisonment against a party that negligently caused an oil spill. While increased tanker movements implies increased risk, it is encouraging to observe the inverse relationship as the downward trend in frequency of oil spills continues. This is despite an overall increase in oil trading over the same period (cf. Figure 5).

Decline in number of tanks spills

Figure 5: Decline in number of tanks spills vs growth in crude and other tanker trade loaded (ITOPF)

However, many companies are reshoring manufacturing facilities and the current economic climate, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, suggests a negative oil trade outlook from 2021 as domestic production increases.

There has also been a huge global drive to reduce fossil fuels, headlined by Biden’s sustainable agenda which included re-joining the Paris climate agreement. In addition, the EU is looking to cut carbon emissions by 55% of its 1990 levels within a decade, adding strong stimulus to this movement. Alternative modes of freight transport are also being considered, such as the re-emergence of rail and electronic vehicle trucking. The UK is also set to ban the sale of petrol cars by 2030. All of this points towards a global reduction in the demand for oil. This in turn will likely help to reduce the rate of oil spills even further.

Grey area over small oil spills

Although medium and large spills have fallen dramatically over the last 5 decades due to strict penalties enforced by regulators, there seems to be a grey area of how big of an issue small oil spills really are. Over 80% of oil spills recorded in the last five decades fall into the smallest spill size category. This includes spills of less than 7 tonnes in size. Unfortunately, the volume of small oil spills is unquantifiable due to incomplete reporting.

In order to seriously tackle the severity of all oil spills, it is paramount that data is obtained about small oil spills. This is needed to quantify the severity of the problem and that we may build metrics that regulators can employ.

Modern solutions

RanMarine’s WasteShark

80% of small oil spills arise from operational accidents during loading, discharging, and bunkering within inland environments. There are many start-ups and modern technology entrepreneurs looking to find ways to solve this problem.  This includes the innovative technological solution from RanMarine, founded in 2016.

RanMarine Technology developed the WasteShark, the world’s first data harvesting Autonomous Surface Vessel (ASV) designed to remove unwanted material from urban water. The WasteShark can remotely controlled as well as autonomous. It relies on minimal manpower to collect, detect and analyse water, exposed to unquantifiable, small oil spills in large areas such as ports, marinas and harbours., It boasts a 500kg debris cleaning capacity per day –  it is a solution for monitoring oil pollution, but also a solution to the exponentially growing plastic problem.

WasteShark in marina

This invention should help to assist authorities to verify compliance with pollution regulations, by flagging and identifying polluter infringements, in particular negligence and failure to report unknown incidents, which could result in severe fines. Its successful series A funding last year demonstrates investor interest, increasing traction and huge potential.

All in all, despite being a huge problem 50 years ago, oil spills have become much more regulated and as a result are much more infrequent. Nonetheless, work still needs to be done with regards to small-sized oil spills which are often unreported and therefore ignored. Recent analysis shows global economic losses of $ 474 billion per year from inadequate water supply, sanitation and urban property flood damage.  Innovations such as RanMarine’s support the cleanliness and the health of the Earth’s waters.

Article by Dominic Wall, Market Analyst