The impact of AlphaMERS’ FTBs in capturing and removing plastic waste from rivers has been impressive.
Plastic pollution has emerged as a global environmental crisis, particularly in water bodies. In the fight against this pervasive issue, AlphaMERS, led by the innovator DC Sekhar, has been making significant strides with their innovative floating trash barriers (FTBs). AlphaMERS’ mission to restore water bodies to their pristine state within a decade has captured the attention of environmentalists, governments, and communities worldwide.
Inspired by his observations of clean rivers in Europe and a conversation with a municipal engineer, DC Sekhar embarked on a journey to develop a solution for the growing problem of plastic waste in rivers.
Sekhar says, “Two events distinctly led me to create this solution. I wished we had clean rivers like those in Europe in India, and I realized that we have to shoulder our burden and not expect anyone else to sort out our problems.”
The main goal of AlphaMERS is clear – to clean water bodies and restore them to their original pristine state within a decade. DC Sekhar’s passion for this mission is evident, as he envisions a future where plastic pollution is no longer a concern. He remarked, “I wish that day comes soon, and I dream of living amidst clean waterways in my lifetime. I believe it is possible.”
AlphaMERS’ innovative FTB technology sets it apart from existing solutions. These FTBs, designed as standing mesh structures with hydrostatic and hydrodynamic stability, effectively capture solid waste while allowing water to flow freely.
The strategic placement of the barriers diagonally across the water ensures that trash is carried to one end, where it can be easily recovered. DC Sekhar emphasized the uniqueness of their design, stating, “This FTB design has been different from any other from day one. It is environmentally and financially one of the very low-cost technologies for this purpose in the world.”
The impact of AlphaMERS’ FTBs in capturing and removing plastic waste from rivers has been impressive. In their first year of operations in Chennai’s Cooum River, approximately 22,000 tons of trash, including 2,200 tons of plastics, were collected and removed from the water.
DC Sekhar proudly shared these results, stating, “It is now installed in ten locations in Cooum and three locations in Adyar river. In a recent example, a small FTB in Puducherry collected two tons of plastics every month and prevented it from reaching the sea.”
Environmental sustainability is a key focus for AlphaMERS, and the safe disposal of the collected plastic waste is an essential aspect of their operations. DC Sekhar explained, “The disposal is a major issue, and we leave it to the Urban Local Bodies (ULB) to dovetail the collected solid waste into their Solid Waste Management (SWM) processing facilities. Our role is to arrest and remove the solid waste from the water at a low cost.”
Despite the remarkable success of AlphaMERS, the journey has not been without challenges. Overcoming issues such as shallow rivers during the monsoon season and pilferage in remote locations required innovative thinking and careful consideration. DC Sekhar highlighted the need for a balance between modularity and permanent fixtures to address these challenges effectively.
Partnerships and collaborations have played a crucial role in AlphaMERS’ expansion and impact. DC Sekhar acknowledged the support of governments and the corporate sector, stating, “Government is a huge and good client, notwithstanding the difficult cash flow cycles of their system.” He also emphasized the role of technology partners and their contribution to the design and fabrication of FTBs.
Looking ahead, AlphaMERS has ambitious plans for the future. DC Sekhar envisions extending their reach beyond Indian water bodies, stating, “We look forward to receiving invitations to install FTBs in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America.”
He also expressed a desire to expand their focus to address other water-related challenges, such as restoring the ecosystem and biodiversity of water bodies.
As AlphaMERS continues to make waves in the fight against plastic pollution, DC Sekhar’s visionary leadership and unwavering commitment to a cleaner future have positioned the organization as a trailblazer in environmental conservation.
Through their innovative FTBs and relentless pursuit of a plastic-free world, AlphaMERS and DC Sekhar are inspiring change and creating a legacy that will benefit generations to come.
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