Picking up all the plastic waste from beaches by hand can be a tiresome and time-consuming process. The BeBot, a solar-powered robot, is there to speed up the process.
At beach cleanups, workers or volunteers usually pick up trash like plastic water bottles or packaging for food. However, the sand often has tiny scraps of plastic that are left behind as the items break down.
Though it’s possible to start to gather them too by using a mesh screen to sift through the pieces of plastic from the sand, it’s a consuming task.
Meet the BeBot: Beach Cleanup Robot Which Cleans Tiny Plastic Waste
This new robot is designed in a way to clean up the tiniest plastic garbage and it goes back and forth the beach, sifting through the top layer of the sand.
The co-founder and CEO of 4ocean, a company that makes products from plastic gathered from the beaches, ocean, and rivers, Alex Schulze, partnered up with Poralu Marine that made the robot. This innovative robot is designed for areas with beaches that are relatively clean but have a lot of microplastics.
Sometimes, large equipment like diesel-powered tractors and big vacuums that sucks up plastic from sand are used for the cleanups of beaches.
However, the BeBot runs on batteries that are connected to a solar panel and it’s much smaller and quieter. This means that the likelihood of the robot disturbing wildlife or beachgoers is minimal.
When the robot is going through the beaches, it covers an area that’s three-fifths the size of one football field every hour. It can collect anything that’s larger than a square centimeter, including pieces of old packaging to cigarette butts.
However, the robot also picks up pebbles and seashells so after it’s full, they sort through the content and divide the recyclable plastic and waste from materials that can be returned to the sand.
Although this makes the process consuming, it’s still faster than sifting through every part of the beach manually.
Where Is the Robot Currently Cleaning Beaches?
4ocean is starting the testing process in Hawaii where some of the beaches are known to be one of the most plastic-polluted places in the world.
Schulze notes that this is precisely what the robot is designed for because it’s impossible to sort through the waste manually.
The company hired full-time workers for cleanups and will keep on gathering larger trash like bottles by hand. The BeBot will collect the rest and the company will use the plastic for recycling and implement it in products like sneakers.
It’s also a Call to Awareness & Living more Sustainably
Schultz believes this robot is an encouragement to others, including owners of beachfront hotels, to use it.
But, he’s aware that it’s only one part of the puzzle; a major shift away from single-use plastic is pivotal so that plastic stops gathering on beaches in the first place.
He explains that this robot is in no way a solution to the crisis of ocean plastic pollution. They hope that it will gather the existing plastic, but also raise people’s awareness that plastic is ending on our precious coastlines and ocean.
They want it to be a tool that will motivate people to live more sustainably and reduce their consumption of single-use plastics.