B.o.B. Litter Trap
Our first project consists of the installation of our “B.o.B” (Barrier or Garbage, Barrera o Basura in Spanish) barrier on the Matías Hernández River. B.o.B is a floating barrier that traps the trash that this riverbed brings, preventing it from reaching the coast and therefore the mangrove swamp, as well as facilitating its collection.
This is a system that has been tested in other countries and so far has been effective in Panama. It is expected that it can be replicated in other rivers that present this same problem.
B.o.B received its first heavy rain on April 6, 2019, which brought tons of garbage that were collected in 470 jumbo bags. Among what was found that day, were 8 fridges. As of December 2019, more than 10,000 garbage bags have been collected, which is equivalent to more than 70 tons of trash. Thus, more than 50 refrigerators, piles of tires, trolleys, suitcases, and 2 tubes of 3m of length regularly used for aqueduct and sewer systems have also been collected.
On April 12, 2020, B.o.B received the first rain of the year, bringing with it an exorbitant amount of waste, since during the dry season of the summer it had not received much garbage due to the lack of rain to drag the accumulated waste on the streets, ditches and ravines, towards the river.
After receiving several heavy rains and seeing the amount of garbage running down the river, some adjustments were made to the B.o.B in order to improve its effectiveness in stopping the floating trash that the river brings.
¿Did you know that 46.7% of the garbage captured by the B.o.B in the Matías Hernández River is plastic bottles and disposable foam containers?
In October 2019, Marea Verde concluded the study “Characterization of the discharge of macro-plastics and other post-consumer floating solid waste in the Bay of Panama by the Matías Hernández River.”
The purpose of this study developed at the B.o.B was to generate data on the types of waste dumped by the population in the Matías Hernández River basin, which are later discharged into the mangrove swamp of the Panama Bay and the ocean, specifically, plastics and other floating solid waste, considered the main components of marine litter generated on dry land, according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP, 2009).
During the study, 26 fractions were analyzed in 50 samples taken from the B.o.B, with a total weight of 238.2 kg. In the following graphs it can be seen that the floating solid residues most captured by the barrier were plastic PET bottles (Polyethylene Terephthalate) with 29.5% of the total weight, followed by the disposable containers of expanded polyethylene (EPS), popularly poorly called “foam”, with 17.2%.
The study was carried out for four (4) months, with the support of more than 60 volunteers, and led by Panamanian engineers Carol Simons, Nayrobis Rodríguez and Álvaro Quirós, and will serve as a baseline for future measurements of the impact of educative actions as well as of recycling in the populations of the upper and middle river basin, in addition to being the first national benchmark for similar studies in other rivers.