Malaysian rivers to host Coldplay garbage-gobbler watercraft

Will Champion, Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland and Chris Martin of Coldplay. Picture: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images via AFP

Will Champion, Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland and Chris Martin of Coldplay. Picture: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images via AFP

Published May 21, 2021


British band Coldplay have sponsored a rubbish-collecting craft that will help clean up Malaysia’s rivers and stop plastic waste from reaching the oceans.

The band made the announcement on its Twitter and Instagram pages in March.

Coldplay have partnered up with The Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit organisation that develops advanced technologies which aim to rid the world’s oceans of plastic and stop plastic pollution at its source.

The R11m sponsorship will go toward the construction and operation of a new river rubbish-interceptor called Neon Moon 1 which will patrol the most polluted rivers of Malaysia.

The organisation aims to deploy these catamaran-design eco-warrior craft into a thousand of the world’s most polluted rivers and collect up to 90% of floating plastic pollution.

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Several interceptors have already been deployed in numerous countries around the world including Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and the United States.

The Neon Moon 1 works by channelling river waste flowing with the current towards the opening of the interceptor. The catamaran design allows the water flow path to pass through the system, carrying the plastic on to a sieve-like conveyor belt which filters the waste from water.

The waste is dumped on to a mobile shelf which drops it into one of six containers built within the craft. When these are full, the onboard computers automatically send out a message to shore operators who empty the dumpsters and return them to the interceptor.

"Coldplay is renowned for their music as well as their philanthropic endeavours, so we're excited that they have chosen to take part in our mission to rid the oceans of plastic through the sponsorship of an interceptor," The Ocean Cleanup said in a statement.

Coldplay lead-singer Chris Martin has always been an environmental advocate with the band’s hit song, Beautiful World, dedicated to conserving the natural world.

In 2019, the band announced it would put a pause on touring their new album due the negative environmental impact of music festivals.

"We're not touring this album," Martin told BBC News. "We're taking time over the next year or two, to work out how our tour can not only be sustainable [but] how it can be actively beneficial."

They are not the only music group to consider the environmental impact of music festivals. British electronic band, Massive Attack, told MPs in March 2020 that it was an "embarrassment" that artists often wear "the climate T-shirt, wave the placard, while simultaneously operating in a high carbon, high-polluting sector".

The band went on to say: "The industry seems to have been locked in a cycle of green pledges and carbon calculations while emission rates remain really high."

A National Geographic article by Laura Parker published on April 30 2021 said: “Rivers are the primary conduits for plastic waste to the seas. In 2017, two separate groups of scientists concluded that 9% of river-borne plastic waste that flushes into the oceans is conveyed by just a handful of large, continental rivers, including the Nile, Amazon, and Yangtze, the world’s three longest rivers.”

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