HINCKLEY, Ohio — Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial kick off to summer. Our beaches and waterways will soon be prime destinations.
The downside, trash that accumulates in those areas. It continues to harm our marine and wildlife. Twenty-two million pounds of plastic enters the Great Lakes each year. About half of that goes into Lake Erie.
Across the globe, companies are working on litter removal technology to capture some of the smaller pieces of harmful contaminants, that often go uncollected or unnoticed.
One device operates on water - the other on the beach. We were invited out to Hinckley Reservation to see this new litter capture technology.
Poralu Marine out of France came up with the PixieDrone and the BeBot.
The PixieDrone is a remote-controlled watercraft that skims the surface to pick up floating trash. Water bottles, chip bags, fishing bobbers, Styrofoam containers are just some of the types of trash it targets. The PixieDrone works best in low-flow rivers, inland lakes, and even Lake Erie on a calm day.
BeBot is another remote-controlled trash removal device, but this works on the beach.
It can go about 2 to 4 inches deep in the sand, sift through particles and capture anything bigger than about 4 mm in size.
Both get the job done, but the best defense against plastic pollution starts with all of us.
"It gets windy by the waters, just make sure your stuff is in containers, tied down. We know people don't want to be littering, but sometimes it happens. And when you go to the beach, bring your own water in reusable bottles, use reusable containers for sandwiches and chips, so that we are not using all these single-use plastics," said Jill Bartolotta, Extension Educator with the Ohio Sea Grant College Program.
The trash collected using the BeBot and PixieDrone will be tracked and analyzed. The purpose, to better understand what contaminants are of greatest risk to their community, and how to best combat it.
The BeBot and PixieDrone will be at the Hinckley Reservation through June. In July they'll head to the Lake Erie Islands. Then Fairport Harbor in August.
Learn more about the BeBot and PixieDrone HERE.