Holland Circular Hotspot

The Great Bubble Barrier

The Great Bubble Barrier stops plastic pollution in rivers before it reaches the oceans. By creating a curtain of air bubbles, plastic is prevented from flowing downstream without hindering fish or shipping. This solution can be used any time and anywhere and, thanks to a network of global partners, will soon be removing the plastics from the waterways all over the world.


Bubble screen

Every minute, the equivalent of one full garbage truck of plastic trash is dumped in the sea. In total that is eight billion kilos per year. Eighty percent of those plastics come directly from use on land.

The Bubble Barrier creates a bubble screen by pumping air through a tube with holes located on the riverbed. Current solutions catch floating debris, but a huge proportion of debris travels underwater. Using the natural current, the bubble barrier creates an upward flow all the way from the riverbed to the surface. This guides the waste to the riverbank, making it accessible for removal.

This innovative concept is based on existing technology. It increases oxygen in the water and does not require changes in infrastructure or policies. It is easily scalable.

Tested and approved

The concept has been extensively tested in collaboration with the Dutch government public works agency ‘Rijkswaterstaat’, Deltares and BAM / Van den Herik. After testing the concept in the flumes at Deltares in May 2017, a three-week trial was held in the IJssel river in November. During this test period the European research team proved that the 180-metre-long Bubble Barrier works under all conditions.

At present, the Great Bubble Barrier is focussing on realising a permanent barrier in het Netherlands. In the future, the ambition is to implement this solution in Europe and Asia.