River Skimmer 2.0: device collects floating litter using improved technology

November 15, 2022

River Cleanup launches new River Skimmer to collect floating litter at Dok Noord (North Dock) in Ghent


Ghent, 28 October 2022 – River Cleanup, the Belgian NGO which raises awareness worldwide of the problems associated with litter, has launched the River Skimmer 2.0 today at Dok Noord in Ghent. The device, an improved version of the first River Skimmer, uses innovative technology to collect floating litter non-stop and effectively clean up our waterways. The new River Skimmer was introduced and officially baptised at the press event. Volunteers then rolled up their sleeves to clean up litter in and around the dock.


11 billion kilos of plastic end up in our oceans each year, a major share of which is dumped via our rivers. River Cleanup aims to intercept plastic before it ends up in the sea, not just with manual clean-ups, but also by deploying innovative technology. That is why this Belgian non-profit organisation decided to launch the River Skimmer 2.0 for the first time today at Dok Noord in Ghent.

Official baptism and solid partnerships

River Cleanup aims to intercept approximately 100 million kilos of plastic destined for our oceans by 2025. The River Skimmer 2.0 project was facilitated with support from Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) who are particularly happy to work in partnership with River Cleanup.


“Our goal is clear. By utilising innovation we want to use less packaging whenever possible and aim to collect and recycle a bottle or can into new packaging for each new one that we sell. Since last summer all our PET bottles have been made from 100% recycled plastic, which means that each plastic bottle can be recycled into a new one. We definitely want to prevent litter from ending up in our natural environment and waterways. That is why we are more than happy to support projects such as River Skimmer, because it helps us achieve our ambition to create a litter free world,” stated Eva Lefevre, Director Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainability Belgium-Luxembourg at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners and sponsor of the River Skimmer 2.0.

Eva Lefevre - Director Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainability Belgium-Luxembourg at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, Thomas de Groote, CEO and founder River Cleanup, Mathias De Clerq, Mayor of Ghent, Maarten Demeester of Dokano vzw and Bram Van Braeckevelt, Alderman for Cleanliness

The River Skimmer 2.0 was officially baptised at Dok Noord in Ghent by the Mayor, Mathias De Clercq, and Bram Van Braeckevelt, the Ghent Councillor in charge of Order/Cleanliness, Tourism, Works and Events. The device developed by the Multi Masters Group is fully CO2 neutral. The litter collected by the Skimmer is processed by Renewi, giving river plastics and other valuable materials a new lease of life. Dokano, a non-profit organisation that keeps waterways around Ghent clean, using amongst other things canoes, will be in charge of the running and maintenance of the device. Following the inauguration of the River Skimmer approximately 30 volunteers rolled up their sleeves to carry out a clean-up on land and in the water.


“Ghent is keen that its city should be enjoyed via its waterways. Any initiative that helps us keep our waterways clean deserves our support. However, prevention is always better than cure, which is why I appeal to people not to thoughtlessly throw litter in the water to ensure that together we keep our waterways clean,” the Mayor of Ghent, Mathias De Clercq, commented.

Ghent Councillor for Order, Tourism, Work and Festivities Bram Van Braeckevelt and Mayor Mathias De Clercq christen the River Skimmer 2.0

“Waste prevention is the key to maintaining clean waterways, which is why I continue to appeal for more recyclable and fewer disposable materials to be entered into circulation. Fortunately, organisations such as Dokano and River Cleanup help us keep our waterways and environment litter free until such goals are achieved. This river skimmer is an excellent means of extending their efforts,”Councillor for Order and Cleanliness, Bram Van Braeckevelt, added.


Reduced amount of litter in Ghent waterways

The River Skimmer operates 24/7 removing floating litter. How exactly does it work? Similar to a large swimming pool skimmer, the system sucks up litter via special openings where a continuous flow of water creates a whirlpool effect preventing the litter from escaping. Once the storage container is full, the operator can lift the device and easily remove the captured waste from the container and thus from our waters. 


The first River Skimmer was launched in mid-January 2021 at Oostkaai in Merksem, which was a first for Belgium. Read all about it here. The main difference lies in the fact that the system has doubled in size, has improved buoyancy and is able to purify up to 500,000 litres of water annually. Moreover, the latest version of the River Skimmer is considerably more effective than its predecessor, amongst other things, because the inflow openings can be sealed when the system is raised. It has already gathered 100 kg of river plastic since it was installed at the beginning of July. 20 kg of plastic and 40 kg of organic matter are collected every week. 


“We become more efficient and effective by combining helping hands with technology, thus accelerating the clearance of litter from our rivers. River Cleanup is exceptionally proud of its second version Skimmer, which is not only twice the size of the previous one but also much more efficient when collecting floating litter!” Thomas de Groote, the founder of River Cleanup, related.


Together we are keeping our rivers clean

The latest technology ensures that litter is collected with amazing efficiency and without interruption. Having said that, helping hands are still sorely needed. Manual litter clearance puts the social problem of plastic in the spotlight and raises awareness at an individual level. It makes consumers more aware of their purchasing behaviour and choice of packaging. “The operations of River Cleanup are based on 3 main principles, also referred to as the ‘ripple model’, i.e. clean, educate & transform. Our rivers are kept clean not just via clearance campaigns and smart technology, but also via education and transformation in the business world. We firmly believe that in addition to the actual clean-up of our rivers, prevention is the most effective way of fighting the waste problem,” de Groote explained.