The Port of London Authority (PLA) and UAE-based company DP World have come together to tackle marine pollution with the introduction of a new passive debris collector (PDC) at the London Gateway Port.
The PDC is a device that is anchored to the riverbed and operates passively by using the energy of the river’s current to trap floating litter and debris.
Together, PLA and DP World subsidiary London Gateway invested £200,000 in the PDC.
The increased tides and wave energy present on the Thames between London Gateway and Gravesend are expected to be addressed using the new PDC.
The PLA engineering team emphasises how the new water collector’s design is more effective than earlier versions and can preserve wildlife whilst maintaining sustainability.
PLA engineering superintendent Jason Rudd said “Our other PDCs were developed for the calmer waters of the upper river. The new PDC is a more robust development of that design to ensure it can operate in the more challenging conditions of the wider, more open and choppy waters downriver without disturbing the wildlife-rich mudflats.”
With the addition of the PDC, the 95 miles of the tidal Thames that the PLA is responsible for will be covered by the nine networks of trash collectors.
According to the Thames21 pollution surveys from 2015-2019, both PLA and Thames 21 have been responsible for removing roughly 200 tonnes of waste from the Thames every year.
A study done at the Royal Holloway, University of London found that there were high levels of microplastics in the Thames, estimating that on peak tides 94 thousand microplastics flow down the river Thames per second in some areas.
DP World UK COO Andrew Bowen said “As a global logistics leader, DP World aims to minimise the environmental impact of our operations, with our goal being zero harm to the environment. We are committed to playing our part to preserve our planet for future generations by reducing emissions across our global portfolio, protecting ecosystems and enhancing and restoring oceans.”
Both PLA and DP World are moving away from traditional ways of removing trash, including disruptive procedures like human removal or mechanical dredging which use heavy machinery and disturb wildlife.
This partnership aligns with the objectives of Goal 14 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for life below water.
Goal 14 aims to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development,” including addressing marine pollution and reducing marine debris.
This project also represents a significant turning point in the PLA’s Thames litter strategy and real advancement towards the policy’s stated objective of a clean river by the year 2050.