San José. The country will have a system called “Interceptor” that will eliminate floating and suspended waste from the upper layer of its waters, government authorities announced Tuesday during a ceremony commemorating World Oceans Day, whose motto is “Clean Seas, Resilient Seas”.
During the activity, which took place in the Presidential House in compliance with all sanitary protocols, the President of the Republic, Carlos Alvarado, the Minister of Environment and Energy (MINAE), Andrea Meza, the Vice-Minister of Water and Seas, Haydée Rodríguez, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Costa Rica, Christine Pirenne and the representative of the organisation The Ocean Cleanup, Frank Willem Behrens, were present.
At the event, a cooperation agreement was signed between MINAE and the Netherlands-based organisation The Ocean Cleanup, which will allow the exchange of technical knowledge of experts on fluvial plastic waste and possible extraction methods. In addition, it will coordinate with different sectors – including coastal communities – to develop clean-up, waste management and waste recovery technologies.
The Ocean Cleanup – a non-profit organisation that develops advanced technologies to remove plastic from the world’s oceans – has worked on a numerical model of global plastic emission into the ocean from rivers, which indicates that 1,000 rivers are responsible for 80% of the global plastic influx, one of which is the Rio Grande de Tárcoles.
The interceptor planned for Tárcoles can store up to 50 m³ of waste before it has to be emptied and works in stages: barrier, conveyor belt, shuttle, waste containers, emptying and recycling.
River waste flowing with the current is guided by the barrier to the opening of the Interceptor, which features a catamaran design that optimises the passage of water through the system. The device carries the plastic to the conveyor belt, and then to the shuttle which automatically distributes the waste into six bins. When the interceptor is almost full, it sends a text message to local operators to come and collect the waste.
The operators then remove the barge, take it to the river side, empty the containers and send the waste to the local facility for handling.
“I appreciate the work of the parties involved in this process and the contribution of this system that will undoubtedly give a respite to one of the rivers most affected by pollution and we make a strong call to citizens to take care of our waterways and seas that are habitats of many marine species,” said the President of the Republic, Carlos Alvarado, after reaffirming his government’s commitment to the environment and the protection of rivers and seas.
The Minister of Environment and Energy, Andrea Meza, announced that “together with the Ministry of Health and with funds granted in the framework of the Free Trade Agreement between the Dominican Republic, Central America and the United States (CAFTA-DR), we are developing the National Plan on Marine Debris. This planning and coordination instrument will have objectives and actions to reduce and manage waste from land and marine sources, among the sectors involved, including the community”.
The National Plan for Integrated Waste Management 2016-2021 establishes that inadequate solid waste management is one of the main environmental problems, damaging the health and quality of life of Costa Rican citizens. According to data from the United Nations, more than eight million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans, causing serious consequences for marine flora and fauna, fishing and tourism.
The deputy minister of Water and Seas, Haydée Rodríguez, said that the reduction and proper management of solid waste in the country contributes to improving the quality of life of people and ecosystems, reducing inequalities and ensuring the landscape and biodiversity heritage. “For this reason, the government is seeking to establish relationships with different actors in society to reduce the effects of marine pollution through technological solutions,” she said.
For her part, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Costa Rica, Christine Pirenne, congratulated the country on the signing of the agreement and said that this collaboration seeks to reduce the environmental impact of plastic in rivers and oceans. “This cooperation agreement is also an important step in the fight against climate change. We look forward to putting it into practice. Along with this, we continue to look for solutions for the sustainable consumption and use of plastic, so that we can prevent it from continuing to reach the rivers and oceans,” said the diplomatic representative.
Wide-ranging discussion. During the World Oceans Day event, there was a discussion on various innovative strategies promoted by the central government, local governments, non-governmental organisations and private companies that contribute to the global goal of clean and resilient seas.
Eugenio Androvetto, from the Ministry of Health, explained the main achievements of the implementation of the National Strategy for the substitution of single-use plastic. Paola Acuña Chacón, MOPT official, referred to the role of maritime transport in the proper management of waste and the main lines of action of the GloLitter project.
Ronny Castillo, representative of the Madre Tierra Verde Foundation, explained the role of coastal communities in ensuring a circular economy in the cooperation project with Ocean Cleanup; Dixania Azofeifa, from FIFCO, explained how private companies contribute to the transformation towards sustainable production models, and Alberto Vásquez, from Cóbano, detailed the initiatives developed by the local government with Nicoya Peninsula Waterkeeper, to reduce marine pollution.