The operation seems as spectacular as the expected result. The NGO The Ocean Cleanup will install a giant metal fence in the municipality of Chinautla (in central Guatemala) on the Las Vacas River, a tributary of the Motagua River which flows into the Gulf of Honduras.

This robust barrier will serve to contain the huge quantities of plastic and other waste from the capital Guatemala, which flash floods bring during the rainy season in the country.

“The ‘interceptor’ captures all the waste that flows into the river and when the water level drops, all the waste that accumulates against the fence will be extracted”, explained, Wednesday, June 8, to the Agency France-Presse (AFP) the director and founder of this Dutch NGO, Boyan Slat.

“One of the most polluting rivers in the world”

According to estimates by The Ocean Cleanup, the plastics transported each year by Las Vacas before ending up on the Caribbean beaches of Guatemala and Honduras, represent 2% of all the plastic waste dumped annually in the world’s oceans. They come mainly from a landfill in Guatemala City and make the Motagua “one of the most polluting rivers in the world,” Slat said.

“One of the ways to get rid of plastic waste from the oceans is to stop the flow coming in through the rivers,” he argued.

On its website, the NGO states that rivers are the main source of plastic pollution in the oceans, “they are the arteries that carry waste from the land to the ocean”. According to its own studies “1,000 rivers are responsible for around 80% of the pollution coming from waterways” and the NGO’s objective is to “tackle these 1,000 most polluting rivers in the world “.

The Ocean Cleanup is currently carrying out several plastic recovery projects around the world, mainly using collector boats such as in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. Other missions are under study in the United States and Thailand.