In acknowledgement of World Oceans Day on June 8, the City of Richmond is taking its own steps to reduce the amount of waste in waterways with the installation of a new trash skimmer in the Fraser River – the first device of its kind to be installed on the west coast of North America.
“The City of Richmond is an acknowledged leader in environmental sustainability,” said Mayor Malcolm Brodie. “Because plastic items and other waste materials are polluting our waterways, this innovative trash skimmer is another way we can take action to clean up our environment and increase awareness. We’re pleased to be working with the Steveston Harbour Authority and Swim Drink Fish Canada to test this new device and its impact on our waterways.”
From its location on the dock at Fisherman’s Wharf in Steveston Village, the trash skimmer will collect both solid and liquid waste that floats on the water’s surface. The City is piloting the device with the Steveston Harbour Authority and Swim Drink Fish Canada, a volunteer-driven environmental group, to test the skimmer’s feasibility and gain a better understanding of the types of materials being pulled from the water by conducting regular waste audits. Examples of some of the debris that may be collected are plastic bottles, packaging, microplastics and hydrocarbons.
In general, statistics from UNESCO’s Intercontinental Oceanographic Commission found that 80 per cent of all marine pollution is plastic waste, and eight to ten million tonnes of plastic ends up in the ocean each year. There are currently about 50-75 trillion pieces of plastic and microplastics in the ocean. In an effort to reduce unnecessary waste, the City introduced the Single-Use Plastic and Other Items Bylaw No. 10000 in September 2022 to ban select single-use plastics, and this new trash skimmer is another step towards increasing awareness and reducing the impact of waste on the environment.