The Recycled Island Foundation introduces a passive Litter Trap to retrieve floating debris in open water such as ports, harbors, canals and rivers using the existing flow of the water.

Plastic Soup

Plastic litter is a structural problem in open waters. Via rivers a large part of the plastics ends up in our seas and oceans, where it becomes part of the worldwide pollution. Initiator Ramon Knoester of the Recycled Island Foundation explains: “The water is in many cities the lowest point, resulting in the unfortunate accumulation of litter in our rivers. When we retrieve the plastics directly in our cities and ports we actively prevent the further growth of the plastic soup in our seas and oceans. Rotterdam can set an example for port cities everywhere in the world. The realization of floating parks and Litter Traps of recycled plastics is an important step towards a litter free river.”

Litter Traps

Recycled Island Foundation developed three passive Litter Traps in Rotterdam, to efficiently capture plastics from the New Meuse (Nieuwe Maas). During a trail period of 1,5 year the Litter Traps are tested, monitored and optimized. This resulted in a good working system, that works efficiently even with heavy ship traffic, tidal changes and different wind directions. The Litter Traps catches floating plastics by using the existing stream of the river and keep the plastics inside even when the direction of the stream turns.


The Litter Trap is a passive system that is anchored to the bottom of the river with spud poles or is attached to the river bank by a rail system. The Litter Trap is hold in place with this anchoring system but will be able to move up and down with the tidal changes.

The position of the Litter Trap is determined by existing accumulation of plastic debris. This can be at a river mouth, an outside curve of a river or a location where the wind has a large impact on the concentration of floating litter. The river water will run through the Litter Trap and the plastic will enter but will stay inside caught in a wire mesh structure. Once the litter is inside the trap it will not leave the system until emptied. The retrieved litter stays inside the independent of changing stream and wind directions. The Litter Trap is intensively tested in the Rotterdam harbor and is able to handle rough weather conditions.


The Litter Trap is relatively small 3*6*2,2 meter (length*width*height). In this way the Litter Trap is easy to transport (on the road by truck) and suitable also for smaller rivers and canals. The range or width is extended by floating booms, which create “arms” to direct the litter into the trap. In this way the Litter Trap can everywhere be the same module. The variety in length of the arms create the flexibility to extend the range. As alternative to the floating booms a bubble screen can be implemented to guide the litter into the trap.


The Litter Trap can be emptied by choice of a dipnet, crane (grabber), removable basket or by opening the backside of the Litter Trap and pulling the litter into a specialized vessel. For each location there are different possibilities. It is RIF’s pleasure to determine the most suitable manner of emptying in collaboration with the local partner.


Construction: HDPE (High-density polyethylene); mostly recycled plastics

Deck: Mix of polyethylene and Polypropylene

Wire mesh and connections: Stainless steel

These materials create a maintenance free / friendly installation


3*6*2,2 meter (length*width*depth).

Depth: 1,5 meter


The Litter Trap is accessible for emptying via the deck and bridges on top.

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Photo: Passive Litter trap Rotterdam

Photo: Passive Litter trap Rotterdam

Photo: Passive Litter trap Rotterdam


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