- Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach, two waterfront cities in Florida, have invested in new automated waste collection boats to pull debris out of their canals, as reported by the Sun Sentinel.
- While other local communities only clean their waterways in response to complaints from residents, these two municipalities have employed dedicated crews. They can now drive the vessels around while waste is collected in a bin underneath rather than having to pull it out with nets.
- Last year, Pompano Beach employees pulled 504 cubic yards of waste out of the canals. This has included everything from small debris to refrigerators.
As marine pollution continues, local governments have had to become more creative in their cleanup strategies. Baltimore's stationary waste collection wheel has been so successful that the city will soon be getting a second one and Honolulu is on track to use similar technology for one of its own canals. The Port of Rotterdam is also currently testing an automated collection drone called Waste Shark that takes the concept of the boats being used in Florida a step further.
Making cleanup operations more efficient is important, but researchers are also working to understand more about the waste and where it's coming from. Over the summer, a team of Chinese researchers released details about a new 3-D laser scanning technology that can map out litter on beaches much faster than traditional hand counts. Researchers from the University of Miami are also working on a project with floating sensors to study the way current speeds and patterns spread waste in Biscayne Bay.
Collecting waste from local waterways before it gets caught up in an ocean gyre can help protect animals and marine ecosystems. Numerous companies and governments have committed funds toward the cause though changing the situation may require a shift in the way society perceives waste overall.