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LA County has a new tool that's helping trap junk before it flows into the ocean


In California, Los Angeles County has a new tool that's helping trap junk before it flows into the Pacific Ocean.

KERJON LEE: This is our Trash Interceptor 007. It's a fully automated, solar-powered trash solution.


Kerjon Lee is with LA County Public Works. He shows off the Interceptor as it sits at the mouth Ballona Creek. It's in the middle of a floating barrier that catches trash riding the creek toward the ocean. A conveyor belt lifts the trash on board the Interceptor, collecting it into six large bins.

LEE: And then those bins eject out on a barge and sent to a materials recovery facility that separates the trash. And then the recyclables go to beneficial reuse.

MARTIN: Lee says the Interceptor was a gift from the Dutch nonprofit The Ocean Cleanup, and it's the first system of its kind used in North America. The initial goal was to catch 30 tons of trash.

LEE: We're now at 60 tons, about 120,000 pounds altogether. So by any measure, that's a really successful amount of trash recovered from the channel and prevented from going on to the beaches and into the ocean.

MARTÍNEZ: But Lee says the Interceptor can't catch everything that's floating out there.

LEE: The type of pollutants that get by, unfortunately, are, like, pet waste, fertilizer, pesticides, those things that dissolve in water.

MARTIN: The Interceptor is part of a two-year pilot project to determine if the new technology is successful in capturing trash from major coastal cities around the globe.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCADE FIRE SONG, "NO CARS GO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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