Tauw takes on Plastic-Free Rivers Challenge

Together with drinking water supplier PWN, Rijkswaterstaat (the executive agency of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment) is organising the Plastic-Free Rivers Makathon, which challenges market players, students and other creative minds to develop an innovative solution to remove plastic from rivers. Ideas will be shared and technologies combined in order to devise new innovative solutions. Tauw is participating in the concept ‘A better world with ease? Collect plastic within plastic’.


Every year, 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans via rivers, lakes, streams and other waterways. This plastic must be removed from the rivers before it reaches the ocean. The ‘plastic soup’ is a threat to our living environment, our economy, and to the health of both aquatic and human life.


The Makathon consists of four days:

  • On the Design Thinking Day (which took place on 20 May), participants explored the issue of plastic waste in rivers, devised potential solutions and created rough mock-ups from the various available material.
  • On 10 and 11 June, participants will co-create to produce prototypes of the different solutions. Various experts will be present to provide information during these days. Master classes will also be held.
  • On 1 July, a selection of teams will be able to present their innovative solution, including a business plan, to the innovation board and potential clients. The candidates with the best innovations will win the use of a test site on a Dutch river (the IJssel).

Tauw’s idea

Tauw’s concept ‘A better world with ease? Collect plastic within plastic’ involves a plastic collection system based on natural behaviour. The system filters plastic from large waterways in much the same way that nose hairs protect the lungs. This passive collection system produces a maximum catch and can be applied to any river.

Innovative Guanabara Bay approach

In 2015, Tauw was involved in the ‘Clean Urban Delta Initiative’ to help Brazil with an innovative system to quickly and effectively capture plastic from around the rivers and deltas near Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro. The Olympics will be held there in August 2016 and many aquatic athletes had expressed their concern about the ‘plastic soup’ in the bay.

More information about the Plastic-Free Rivers Challenge can be found on www.plasticfreerivers.com.

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