Innovative new waste capture device installed in Marseille’s Old Port

The system captures rubbish headed for the sea after rainfall and works with objects as small as cigarette butts. It can also measure water quality

31 December 2021

The D-Rain system at Marseille’s Old Port Pic: BD2 WALLIS-7068

By Oliwia Geisler

Marseille’s Old Port has seen the installation of an innovative new waste capture device that intercepts rubbish destined for the sea.

The ‘D-Rain’ system is the product of local startup Green City Organisation, which aims to fight water pollution in the Mediterranean.

The organisation says that 80% of sea pollution comes from land and that “with each major rainfall event, coastal cities discharge waste, plastics and other emerging pollutants directly into the sea via land and underwater stormwater outfalls, like a flush”.

Its founder, Isabelle Gerente, said: “You don’t have to be a biologist to see that the waters are polluted”.

Water quality can also be tested

She said the concept [of the D-Rain system] is simple:  it consists of a net connected to both offshore and onshore water outlets that is able to capture waste as small as 5mm.

The net has a volume of 10m³ and will need to be emptied ten times a year.

The system is able to alert when the net is full so that the water flow can be released and the net can be emptied.

Sensors on the system are also able to measure the quality of the water, collecting data on factors such as acidity, turbidity and levels of oxygen.

The first system was installed in Marseille on December 14 for a planned period of 18 months, during which the performance of the system will be measured, taking into account the seasons and rainy episodes.

Hopes for expansion to Italy and Spain

However, Mrs Gerente said that she hopes the system will be installed all along the Mediterranean coast, including in neighbouring countries Italy and Spain.

Within five years, the organisation aims to recover the equivalent of what France discharges into the Mediterranean - 11,000 tonnes of waste per year.

So far, it has been recognised by various institutions and received multiple awards, including the Monaco Smart & Sustainable Marina Award 2021 and the Special Jury Prize in the EDF Pulse 2021 competition (Biodiversity and Nature Protection category).

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