Kingston Harbour is a model for the future

Kingston, Jamaica, has eleven major drainage canals – known as gullies – that were originally intended to prevent flooding by rapidly moving storm water into the harbour. But when plastic pollution of those gullies surged, pollution of the harbour became a problem. Now the harbour is home to an innovative capture and cleanup system that is helping chart future directions for cleaning up 1,000 of the world’s most polluted rivers.

The Kingston Harbour Cleanup Project is using technology developed in the Netherlands by The Ocean Cleanup, and working with Jamaican partners GraceKennedy Foundation, one of the Caribbean’s largest community service groups, and Clean Harbours Jamaica, which oversees the restoration of natural harbors, gullies, and streams on the island, to clean up the harbour.

In September, during International Coastal Cleanup Day 2023, more than 500 volunteers recovered more than 13,000 pounds of waste from Gun Boat Beach, and the GraceKennedy Foundation was awarded the prestigious 2022 RJRGleaner Honour Award for its successful facilitation of the project.

“The Kingston Harbour Cleanup Project has been groundbreaking and is a critical part of GK’s efforts to protect our Kingston Harbour and raise awareness about solid waste pollution in Jamaica,” said GraceKennedy Group CEO Don Wehby. “GK’s 2030 vision of becoming the number one Caribbean brand in the world, is underpinned by our Environmental, Social, and Governance framework, which among other things charges GK with being responsible stewards of our environment.”

The Ocean Cleanup photo

In May 2020, the Benioff Ocean Initiative awarded The Ocean Cleanup $1 million (USD) to deploy an Interceptor in Kingston Harbour, Jamaica – a location that is vital to Jamaica’s tourism and whose cleanup shows the country is committed to protecting its environment.

To tackle small and heavily polluting rivers, such as those found in Jamaica, The Ocean Cleanup added two new tools to its toolkit: the Interceptor Barrier and the Interceptor Tender.

The Interceptor Barrier, which can be used to halt debris at the mouth of a small river or canal, consists of a standalone floating barrier that, once anchored on each side, forms a U-shape. Debris floats down the waterway until it reaches the barrier, which then holds it in place until operators can remove it. 

The barrier is paired with the Interceptor Tender, a small, powered barge that uses a conveyor belt to scoop up the trapped trash. The tender can move between barrier sites to collect, then offload, debris into an onshore dumpster.

The Ocean Cleanup is testing the combination of Interceptor™ Barriers and an Interceptor™ Tender in five of Kingston’s gullies – Kingston Pen Gully, Barnes Gully,  Rae Town Gully, Tivoli Gully and D’Aguilar Gully. The interceptors can be tracked here.

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