River Catchment Project: River Litter Booms/Traps


River Catchment Project

More than 80 percent of marine pollution and litter on the South African beaches come from land-based sources. There is a need to identify pathways of pollution, from land to sea, using a Source-to-Sea approach, and take necessary action.

To prevent mismanagement plastics waste from reaching our beaches and marine environment Plastics SA support the establishing of litter booms, traps and other technological solutions in priority waterways and rivers.

These booms are designed to trap litter that is washed down the rivers from upstream. The booms also allow for the trapped litter to be collected from a single point. These devices does not pose a risk to any species found in the rivers. This river catchment project has helped to eradicate a large amount of litter that would certainly have found its way into the ocean environment.

PlasticsǀSA has identified four river catchment areas:

  • eThekwini River Catchment (Durban Functional Region, KZN)
  • Zwartkops Estuary (Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape)
  • Black River Catchment (Cape Town, Western Cape)
  • Sabie River Catchment (Hazyview, Mpumalanga)

Project methodology:
The litter boom project will run on three tiers:

  • Ensuring support to ensure that material does not reach the sea and is taken out of the waterways.
  • Guaranteeing that the material collected is recycled.
  • Raising awareness on the issues of a clean environment and recycling.

Kwa Zulu Natal – Durban river catchment:
Plastics SA teamed up with government, industry and environmentalists in Durban to tackle ocean pollution. The team installed a litter boom where the Umbilo and Umhlatuzana Rivers meet before they enter the Durban Harbour, to catch any floating waste before it enters the Indian Ocean.

A litter boom was also installed during World Oceans Day, 8 June 2018, at the Ohlanga river mouth/estuary – Umhlanga, Durban.

The Durban Green Corridor installed 4 operational litter booms in the Umgeni River catchment and are currently serviced by plastics collectors.

Cape Town river catchment – Black River:
Plastics SA Black river Pollution Information Sharing Meeting – 24 October 2018
This Information Sharing Meeting was convened due to interest shown from concerned individuals and organizations on the work by the City of Cape Town through its Environmental Management Department in the removal of waste from the Black River in the Cape Town Catchment area.

Work in the tributaries of this non-canalized section, which complement the work already being in the river, is already active but there is very little, or no sharing of information between these various entities.

At the same time, research on the leakage of plastic from various sources is in progress on the river but there is also no communication between these research departments. In addition, this information will assist the groups already involved in clean-ups regarding their success and where there might be need to focus more energy.

The workshop also looked at supportive actions such as awareness raising and waste removal from the area in a sustainable way where the communities would recognize the value of the material where it is presently improperly managed.

River Catchment Project

Project Outcomes

Our aim is to reduce the amount of litter that washes into the sea from the Durban rivers. The litter boom floats on the surface of the water and acts as a trap that prevents all the floating litter from washing down into the estuary and into the sea. It then allows for that litter to be collected at one point. The device does not pose a risk to any species found in the lagoon.

  • The Durban Green Corridor litter booms in the Umgeni River catchment are serviced by plastics collectors and the collected materials are sorted and sold to plastics recyclers.
  • The current litter booms are ensuring that less plastics enter the ocean.
  • An successful Black River Pollution meeting on 24 October brought various role partners together to share information and come up with a river pollution strategy – action plan for 2019
River Catchment ProjectRiver Catchment Project

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