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Brief Published: 20 Aug 2021

New Robot Removes Microplastics from Florida’s Beaches

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BeBot

The environmental impact of ocean plastics washing up on global shorelines has long been acknowledged – but human-led clean-up efforts can only remove so much waste. Enter new beach-cleaning robot BeBot that helps rid coastlines of micro-pollution.

Launched on the Florida shoreline in July, BeBot is changing beach clean-up efforts for the better. Human waste collectors often focus on larger waste items – think plastic bottles, discarded robes and large food containers. BeBot, however, sifts beach sand through a screen, removing waste as small as one square centimetre which can be missed by the human eye. 

Created by French technology company Poralu Marine, the robot is 100% electric, supplemented by integrated solar panels to ensure it produces no harmful emissions. The robot is near-silent and can safely navigate typical beach terrain, limiting disturbance of local wildlife as it cleans up to 3,000m sq per hour.

Florida-based company 4ocean, which creates jewellery and accessories from recycled ocean plastic, has collaborated with Poralu Marine and plans to test BeBot further in Hawaii, where beach pollution is notoriously high.

“BeBot is by no means a solution for the ocean plastic crisis,” acknowledges Alex Schulze, co-founder and chief executive of 4ocean. “We hope to use this machine to collect the plastic that already exists. But also to raise awareness that plastic is getting on the coastlines and in the ocean." 

More innovation is needed to help tackle microplastics on global beaches. June-published research has found that coastal plastic pollution acts as a layer of insulation, raising the temperature of beach environments and destroying delicate marine life ecosystems.

For more on technology’s role in climate action, see Enter Ethi-Tech and Tech’s Holistic Revolution.

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