Rivers • The Interceptor • The Ocean Cleanup (2023)

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Rivers • The Interceptor • The Ocean Cleanup (1)

Closing the tap

80% of river plastic
stems from
1000 rivers

Rivers are the main source of ocean plastic pollution. They are the arteries that carry waste from land to the ocean. According to our research, 1000 rivers are responsible for roughly 80% of riverine pollution.

We aim to tackle plastic in 1000 rivers

To rid the oceans of plastic, we need not only to clean up what is already out there but also stop new plastic from entering the ocean – we need to close the tap. Working together with government leaders, individuals, and private corporations, our goal is to tackle these 1000 most polluting rivers all over the world.

Every single year, marine plastic costs the economy (6 to 19) billions of dollars – impacting tourism, fisheries and aquaculture, and (governmental) cleanups. And that doesn’t include the impact on our health and on the marine ecosystem. Intercepting plastic in rivers is much more cost-effective than dealing with the consequences downstream.

Interceptor Solutions

No one river is the same. Factors like river width, depth, flow speed, debris composition, seasonality, and tides all have a major influence on the success of a river intervention. To tackle different types of scenarios, we have a family of technology solutions to choose from, ranging from high tech to low tech. Besides the ones listed below, we investigate the most suitable and effective ways to intercept plastic in other rivers on a case-by-case evaluation, and more solutions will be added to our portfolio.

Interceptor Original

The Interceptor Original is our first river cleanup technology. The Interceptor Original is a high-tech solution with solar-powered mechanics, smart processing, and connectivity for easy performance tracking. It is designed for series production, and in December 2020, we entered a partnership with Konecranes to begin manufacturing for more locations. Due to its autonomous and large cleaning capacity, this is the primary technology we evaluate for feasibility in any new river we plan to tackle. We currently have deployed this technology in five locations: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, USA (California). To learn more, visit our Interceptor Original page:

Learn more
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Interceptor Barrier

The Interceptor Barrier is a solution that consists of a standalone floating barrier anchored in a U-shape around the mouth of a small river. This intercepts the trash and buffers it until it is removed from the water. The design builds on our experience from our existing Interceptor deployments. In fact, it is a variation of the barrier we use to concentrate trash toward the mouth of a standard Interceptor. The main difference is that, in this case, most of the barrier is permeable and is thereby optimized to efficiently buffer trash in the water.

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Interceptor Tender

The Interceptor Tender was developed to work alongside our Interceptor Barriers. This small powered barge uses a conveyor belt to scoop up the trash from a barrier and offload it into a dumpster onshore. While the Interceptor Barrier is a tool to intercept trash, it’s not capable of extracting and offloading on its own. This is where the Interceptor Tender comes in. This mobile extraction and offloading unit – developed in collaboration with Berky GmbH – is capable of servicing multiple barriers, and we expect to see multiple Interceptor Barrier deployments in close proximity to others. This means that the cost of extraction/offloading equipment is shared over multiple Interceptor sites.

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Interceptor Barricade

The Interceptor Barricade was installed for testing in the Rio Las Vacas, Guatemala, in late May 2023 to halt the yearly tsunamis of trash that flood down the river during the rainy season. To withstand these exceptional high-pressure events, we developed a new Interceptor concept for this location. The Interceptor Barricade consists of two booms: one upstream and one downstream. The one upstream will take the majority of the pressure and the waste. This location is best suited for effective plastic extraction. The boom downstream catches any plastic missed or lost due to the pressure build-up and rapid trash accumulation in this uniquely challenging river.

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We currently have 11 Interceptors deployed in 7 countries. Keep track of upcoming and deployed Interceptor Solutions on our dashboard.

Track Interceptors

Interceptors deployed LOCATION TYPE
INTERCEPTOR 001 Cengkareng Drain, Jakarta, Indonesia Interceptor Original, Gen. 1
INTERCEPTOR 002 Klang River, Klang, Malaysia Interceptor Original, Gen. 2
INTERCEPTOR 003 Can Tho River, Can Tho, Viet Nam Interceptor Original, Gen. 2
INTERCEPTOR 004 Rio Ozama, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Interceptor Original, Gen. 2
INTERCEPTOR 005 Klang River, Klang, Malaysia Interceptor Original, Gen. 3
INTERCEPTOR 006 Rio Las Vacas, Guatemala Interceptor Barricade
INTERCEPTOR 007 Ballona Creek, Los Angeles, USA Interceptor Original, Gen. 3
INTERCEPTOR 008, 009, 010, 011, 012 Kingston Harbour, Kingston, Jamaica Interceptor Barriers and Interceptor Tender

Together we can close the tap in 1000 rivers

At The Ocean Cleanup, we see ourselves as the architects of river projects to stop the inflow of plastic into the oceans. We bring the knowledge (where and how to intercept riverine plastic), provide solutions (e.g. our Interceptors), and use an extensive network to raise awareness, helping to attract funding and financing.

Given the scale and the urgency of the issue, we depend on partners who, by working closely together, can help us in reaching our goal of tackling plastic in the 1000 most polluting rivers.

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    Our local partners operate the Interceptors to extract the waste from the river and bring this on shore. They work together with responsible waste handlers to sort debris and recycle plastic where possible.

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    Governments and river owners
    Operators need support from (local) governments, who can provide the necessary permits to operate in rivers. Collection fees from governments and cities help safeguard continuity in waste extraction by the operators.

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    Funders and sponsors
    Funders, sponsors, and investors make these river cleanups possible and accelerate the deployment of Interceptors. With your help, we can build consortia to clean rivers where it is most necessary.

A word from our Interceptor partners

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    "The Interceptor 004 in the Dominican Republic has catalyzed nationwide discussions and concrete action on the system around the system and the whole plastic and waste management chain. This collaboration serves as a reference for other global developments under the collaboration agreement between The Ocean Cleanup and UNDP"

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    "We are excited about the possibilities to embed more sustainable practices into our operations including new ways to support our existing cleaning methodology in Klang River that can withstand strong currents, large volumes of water, and manage both organic and inorganic waste"

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    "The project is super exciting and a great learning opportunity. It’s a game changer for the cleanup of the Kingston Harbour. What I love about it is to see the buy-in from our government partners, the private sector and from the general public."

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    "It has brought tremendous satisfaction to see so many people invested in cleaning up Kingston Harbour. This project is now our legacy to those who follow; nothing is impossible and if we continue to work together, everyday we’ll get closer to ridding our world’s oceans of plastic."

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    "I’m happy to be able to contribute so far, especially on the water-based waste collection before it enters the sea and being able to capture plenty of waste."

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    "Working together with The Ocean Cleanup to clean some of the most polluted rivers in Indonesia is a blessing for me! It provides me with an opportunity to give back to my beloved country Indonesia. Let’s work together to leave cleaners rivers and oceans for the future generation!"

Featured updates

Discussion, General, Rivers Why Rivers are the Key to Rapidly Stopping Plastic Pollution
General, Rivers Introducing the Interceptor Barricade: The Ocean Cleanup returns to Guatemala
See more updates
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The 1000 top polluting rivers

Join us in tackling 1000 rivers – by helping to spread the message about riverine pollution and supporting our mission.

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