WasteSharks – Taking a bite out of water pollution

The state of the planet, and particularly our bodies of water, is becoming of greater concern every day. Some estimates are that one million plastic bottles are sold every minute across the globe, many of these ending up in waterways.

One man who is making a massive difference in that regard is Cape Town’s own, founder of RanMarine and the WasteShark – a marine vessel designed to both clear unwanted material from inland and near-coastal water, and to collect water quality data from the marine environment – that’s now operational in 12 countries around the world, including South Africa.

“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,” explains Hardiman.

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

“The WasteShark and our developing platforms are part of the greater vision of making collection of waste and pollution in water more efficient, less costly and ultimately less harmful than current methods used,” he adds.

1. When was the WaterShark invented?
The WasteShark was invented as a concept in 2013 but wasn’t developed into a first prototype until 2015; in 2016 the founder Richard Hardiman was invited to enter a maritime accelerator in Rotterdam, the Netherlands where he received funding to develop the first version of the WasteShark we know today.

2. What was the motivation behind its invention?
The original idea came about when Richard saw how marine litter was then being cleaned by water authorities, using small boats and pool nets to remove the litter. Richard thought he could design and come up with a more effective way to remove waste from water using drones. The original motivation was a desire for greater efficiency but also led Richard into the environmental space where he saw just how effective new technology could be in helping our planet.

3. Where is the WaterShark being used? Where did it start off and how has it grown over the years?
The idea and concept were developed in Cape Town, South Africa and the very first prototype was built and tested there. Subsequently Richard moved the business to the Netherlands to develop the product and business further.  Since 2016 drones now operate in the EU, Ireland, the UK, South Korea, India, Australia and the USA amongst others.

4. What purpose does it serve? How does it function?
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 you may have in your house, this machine can operate in a similar fashion, cleaning the water constantly.  RanMarine has developed two versions of the product, one that is remote controlled and an operator can remain on the quayside while cleaning and capturing waste. The second version is an autonomous robot that can be set to clean an area without human intervention and return with waste once it is full. It uses onboard lidar as collision avoidance and collects water quality data as it goes using sensors mounted onboard.

5. How does the product omit emissions?
The WasteShark uses batteries to operate so it does not emit any emissions while it is in use – like a battery-powered car, the WasteShark can be operated up to 10 hours a day on a single charge.

6. Are there any plans to further develop the WasteShark, and what do those plans look like?
RanMarine is launching a larger version in the next six months capable of removing one ton of waste in a single load, this has been developed over the last few years and will be on sale in the middle of the year; we are also developing a docking station which houses up to five WasteSharks at a time, empties their baskets automatically and recharges them making it a total autonomous solution where humans are only required for oversight.

SA Sailing in partnership with World Sailing are committed to reducing waste and together have released a cobranded Sustainability Education Programme for sailing clubs and parents as part of the 2030 Agenda of Sailing’s commitment to global sustainability.

If you would like to see WasteShark in your local waters, please contact RanMarine today and start the journey of reducing waste in South Africa.

The article can be found on link.


A clean environment, including fresh air, land and waterways is necessary for all the living things on this planet.


sea, ocean, twilight


Industrialization is vital for all the countries, as it not only boosts the economy and development, but also generates employment opportunities. At the same time, sustainable living is equally important. A clean environment, including fresh air, land and waterways is necessary for all the living things on this planet.

However, in spite of all the factual data readily available to study the devastating impact of pollution and environmental degradation, our effort to mitigate the impact remains questionable.

Especially, when it comes to the oceans and other water bodies, the recent developments have been worrying to say the least. A number of plastic patches are floating on the surface of oceans, with some of them easily visible through satellite imagery.

The chemical waste released by several industries is only making the things complex. With increasing pollution levels, the marine life is threatened, while the humans are also being affected both directly and indirectly.

Although a number of innovative solutions have been tried and tested by the concerned authorities across the world so far, the success rate has not exuberated confidence. However, in the last few years, a unique product called WasteShark has turned heads with its efficiency and success rate.

Developed by Netherland-based RanMarine Technology, this water-robot is world’s first data harvesting autonomous surface vessel. It is designed to remove the unwanted material from the water bodies, while being operated autonomously or remotely.

WasteShark is capable of cleaning up 500 kg of debris per day, other than being a solution to monitor the pollution levels. The cost of fueling this water-robot for a year is equal to the cost of watching TV for 5 hours in a day for 12 months.

It comes with a battery capacity of 8 hours that is enough to accomplish the task for the day. WasteShark goes about its business without harming the marine life.

Having already been deployed in several water bodies across various countries, WasteShark has succeeded in withstanding the test of cleaning up lakes, ponds and oceans without any disruption. On the back of such innovative solutions, RanMarine Technology has come a long way.

The company was even able to attract global investment firm Boundary Holding, led by Rajat Khare. It also received funding from European Union (EU) to scale up operations and reduce the pollution considerably with its effective product list.

Reversing technological advancements or industrialization is not an option anymore. Having come this far, it would be stupid to believe that the plastic and chemical waste generation can be completely stopped anytime soon.

At this juncture, the better option is to control the damage by constantly cleaning up water bodies with innovative solutions like WasteShark and being more responsible towards the handling of environment in the larger picture.

Read full article by Influencive

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