Since May 2023, a hi-tech boat has been collecting up to 5 tons of waste per day from the Chao Phraya River in the Bangkok area. The long-term goal is to create a sustainable recovery and recycling system.
Sustainability is a top priority throughout the Volkswagen Group, and it goes beyond efforts to optimize business processes and activities. The collaboration between Audi Environmental Foundation and Ferry Porsche Foundation - founded in 2018 and focusing on charitable projects in the fields of social affairs, environment, education, academics, culture and sports - is one example.
Both foundations support the green start-up everwave committed to reducing pollution in waterways. The latest initiative involves the Chao Phraya River in the Bangkok area and aims to remove as much plastic waste as possible. The operational side is taken care of by a German boat equipped with high-tech equipment to remove waste from the river, the CollectiX; under ideal conditions, it can collect up to 5 tons of garbage per day. The project also involves collaboration with the local nongovernmental organization TerraCycle Thai Foundation, with the aim of establishing a stable waste treatment infrastructure in the medium term in the region around Bangkok.
This is the third time Audi Environmental Foundation has joined the green start-up everwave in a clean-up project to remove plastic from rivers. The Chao Phraya River, which flows into the Gulf of Thailand 35 kilometers west of Bangkok, flushes around 385 tons of plastic garbage into the ocean each year. The starting phase of garbage collection project was initially scheduled to run for five months. The project itself is designed to be more long-term than previous collaborations. With this initiative, the project partners want to draw attention to the role of rivers in pollution: by their nature, they become kind of "plastic highways," meaning they carry trash all the way to the open sea.
TerraCycle Thai Foundation
everwave's CollectiX boat began collecting garbage last May, sailing on the Chao Phraya and its canals, taking up to five tons of trash out of the water each day. It uses drones, cameras, and artificial intelligence to detect and collect large amounts of trash, which is then transported to shore for sorting and processing by employees of local NGO TerraCycle Thai Foundation. "Using technology to make the environment cleaner is very promising. This approach has already been confirmed through previous collaborations" explains Rüdiger Recknagel, Director of Audi Environmental Foundation.
Technology serving the environment
"With the help of hi-tech solutions that we call Greenovation, we can be faster and more efficient today than we thought possible years ago. That is why we have also intensified our commitment to everwave, with a twofold objective: on the one hand, to remove waste from the water with the help of technologically sophisticated boats, and on the other hand raise awareness of ecological responsibility" Recknagel adds. Increasing the people's awareness of how human actions impact nature is apriority important activity for Audi Environmental Foundation, so that everyone can contribute to a sustainable way of life.
Differentiate and recycle
"Much of the plastic in the Chao Phraya comes from open landfills in the region. Fishing the garbage from the river is not enough; we need to address the root of the problem. The collaboration with the TerraCycle Thai Foundation is important because it allows us to work with a local partner on a sustainable system to recycle waste. We intend to increase waste and recycling facilities and set up collection points and containers" explains Clemens Feigl, CEO of everwave.
The project prioritizes local cooperation to ensure a sustainable impact in the region. This is why local people work on the CollectiX boat, who are also provided with the necessary training. For local NGOs, in parallel, this project means making a quantum leap in efficiency. Just consider that before having the support of the boat, members of the TerraCycle Thai Foundation extracted waste from the river by hand or with fishing nets. The attention garnered by CollectiX could attract additional partners who could be involved in the project in the coming months. The goal is turn the initiative into a permanent activity; within 20 years, if it goes well, the Chao Phraya could be permanently cleared of waste.
Source: AUDI AG
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