The project partners are aiming to establish in the medium term a stable infrastructure for waste processing in the region around the Thai capital, by working with the TerraCycle Thai Foundation, a local non-governmental organisation.
The CollectiX boat uses drones, cameras and AI to detect and collect large piles of trash and transport them to shore for sorting and processing by a team from the NGO. Since May, 20 to 30 tons of rubbish has been removed from the river each month.
The five-month collaboration is kick-starting everwave's long-term Cleanup in Bangkok project.
“A lot of the plastic in the Chao Phraya comes from open landfills in the region,” said everwave CEO Clemens Feigl. “So, it’s not enough to simply fish the garbage from the river. We need to address the root causes. That’s why our cooperation with the TerraCycle Thai Foundation is so important. We are supporting facilities for sorting and recycling. And in the long term, we want to establish collection points and containers too.”
This initiative marks the second time that the Ferry Porsche Foundation has joined forces with the Audi Environmental Foundation and everwave to combat waste in rivers.
From the Chao Phraya, about 385 tons of plastic flows into the Gulf of Thailand, 35km west of the capital, every year. The project partners are hoping to highlight the fact that rivers like this act as “plastic highways”, meaning that carelessly discarded litter finds its way into the water before being swept out to the open sea.
The campaign is being accompanied by environmental education measures.
Two Thai boatmen have been hired to work on the CollectiX boat, and two more are being trained.
For the local NGOs, cooperating with the initiative from Germany means a quantum leap in efficiency. Before the boat was working in the water, members of the TerraCycle Thai Foundation pulled garbage from the river by hand or with fishing nets.
It is hoped that the attention that the boat has been garnering on the river can be used to attract other partners who, in the long term, could establish sustainable structures for waste avoidance and recycling. “If it goes well, the Chao Phraya could be trash-free in 10-20 years,” said Feigl.
Founded in 2018, the Ferry Porsche Foundation supports and initiates charitable projects in social affairs, environment, education and academics, culture and sports. The foundation also aims to support young people through social engagement at the company locations of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG. Its name comes from Ferry Porsche, who founded the sports car manufacturer Porsche in 1948.