MAS is trialing a floating plastic trap on the canals

Pretty neat to see this happen[1]. We have a significant amount of plastic thrown into the canals just judging by what I see when I drive past canals. Apparently Sri Lanka generates 400 metric tonnes of plastic waste a day. What percentage of that ends up in the canals is something I can't get a figure on. What I did gather from the video is that 70% of the plastic that enters the canals, floats out to sea permanently. Only 30% makes it back to the shores where it can be cleaned up. Combine that with the fact that this particular floating strainer catches 35 kilos of plastic a day, I'm curious about the efficiency of this.

Going back to the motivation of the project—that the garbage needs to be caught before it gets to the sea—it seems in line with scientists critiquing sea clean up projects (Weise, “A Giant Floating Trash Collector Heads for Pacific Garbage Patch.”). The clean up projects are a good thing but the bigger picture is stopping polution from ending up in the oceans in the first place. In particular, because not all plastic floats on the sea over time it's paramount that we ensure things don't make it to the sea at all.

I'm curious though about what the difference is between this and other gates I have seen installed along various other canal passages[2]. I should probably travel around with a camera to grab some snaps of other plastic traps I've seen elsewhere on the dehiwala canals.

Based on my reading on ceylon today (Thassim, “Keeping Our Seas Plastic-Free.”) it seems like this particular floating wall will float along the canal collecting garbage.


  1. This project is being driven by MAS's Environmental Sustainability unit. In fact, I discovered the existence of this unit only yesterday so I want to dig into their other projects. ↩︎

  2. One of the key issues usually turns out to be that the plastic collects and eventually the collection of plastic dies off and then stagnation happens. I'd be curious if MAS is putting into place any monitoring post implementation to ensure that maintenance of the project is followed through. ↩︎

Posted on September 29 2020 by Adnan Issadeen