With a name sounding like it originated from Star Trek’s fleet command, a boat called the Interceptor launched today in Europe. It’s mission: To boldly go and cleanup our planet from heaps of junk plastic clogging up its rivers.

Built by the company Ocean Cleanup, the Interceptor is a solar-powered barge that funnels debris into its mouth and is easily transportable to rivers around the world. “About 1,000 rivers contribute 80 percent of terrestrial emissions,” says Laurent Lebreton, chief scientist at The Ocean Cleanup. “So if we want to reduce significantly plastic emissions into the ocean, we want to tackle those rivers.” Two of its protype crafts are already in operation in Asia, and others are planned to be sent to Vietnam and the Dominican Republic.

The genesis of Ocean Cleanup’s new riverboat design came from lessons learnt from mishaps with its ocean cleanup vessels. Because of the indiscriminate way its ocean-going vessels collected not just junk plastic but also marine life, many conservationists were concerned that the cure being offered was worse than the disease. Ocean Cleanup took note, made adjustments, and in so doing is refabricating its crafts to be more eco-friendly.

Just exactly how does it operate? As reported in Wired.com:

The Interceptor is fully solar powered. Trash flows up its belt and into a ‘shuttle’ bin, which deposits the waste in one of six dumpsters situated below. Once the barge is full, the system sends a text message to operators in the area, who come with a tugboat and pull the bins to shore. It can capture some 50,000 kilograms of trash a day and is designed to last 20 years.”

For more information, check out the full story on Wired.com.

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  • CFACT, founded in 1985 by Craig Rucker and the late (truly great) David Rothbard, examines the relationship between human freedom, and issues of energy, environment, climate, economics, civil rights and more.