The next steps to protect coastlines and waterways
Published on 09 Feb ‘21
Longest debris barrier in Europe to remove plastic from waterways
The next steps to protect coastlines and waterways


In an effort to improve the water quality of Europe’s rivers, Bolina, an Ecocoast company, has engineered the longest floating debris barrier to remove plastic and other floating debris from the tidal river of Scheldt in Belgium. The river barrier funnels 218kg a day into the plastic catcher, removing 7 tonnes of debris and human pollutants a month from the river.

Commenting from Ecocoast, Gregory Duquennois, project lead said:

“At Ecocoast, our core purpose is to pioneer and therefore we are proud to have designed a bespoke product that leads the way in waterway protection. We look forward to creating further product solutions across European waterways to assist in cleaning the rivers, so that ecosystems and people can continue to benefit from what can be called the heartlines of Europe.”

DEME installed the litter trap in Temse, Belgium, with a floating funnel that covers part of the river. Operational 24/7, it catches and collects drifting debris inside the Bolina floating debris barriers. Once the litter trap is full, everything is transferred into a CO2 neutral DEME vessel using VR technology. The debris is then transported to the riverbank, where DEME transfers once again the litter for collection and processing. An innovative design was required due to its tricky location on the Scheldt near the Temse Bridge. Various factors came into play including the tidal effect of up to six metres, the alternating current directions and water speeds of up to two metres per second, as well as the river being a busy shipping route – a fitting challenge for both Ecocoast and DEME.

The original design integrated the tried and tested Bolina floating debris barriers that would rise and fall with the tide. Two giant ‘arms’ would form a funnel and guide the pollution towards the plastic collector to be trapped and then disposed of by means of a waste container and an autonomous vessel. Both arms are constructed from one full length, without intermediate pieces or other connections in order to maintain maximum tensile strength. The arms span 103 meters for the northern side of the funnel and the southern arm is 175 meters.

Due to the extreme tidal effect, Bolina D-500 pile drivers were provided at the beginning of the barriers, which followed the full height difference of six metres, four times a day. At the plastic collector, a special  roller system was designed for the connection between the Bolina floating debris barriers and the collector itself. The new roller system allows free movement between the dirt screen and the pontoon in the event of strong waves and tides, without losing any plastic or floating debris.

Waterways worldwide face water pollution challenges, plastic, wet wipes and all kind of debris which pollute the waterways. Trial and investment from governments, private companies and organisations like DEME and The Flemish Waterway initiative in Temse means these rivers have seen a revitalisation with eco systems returning and beginning to flourish.

Watch the video of the longest debris barrier in Europe:

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Get in touch with our agent Gregory Duquennois to know more about this project or other installations in Belgium. Or, our Ecocoast team is here to help guide you to find the perfect solution for your needs. Contact us here.

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