The Great Bubble Barrier

The Great Bubble Barrier® intercepts plastic waste before it reaches our oceans by implementing Bubble Barriers that direct waste to the side of the river in its catchment system. 

TARGET USERS: Government

KEY CONSIDERATIONS: The first Bubble Barrier was installed in Amsterdam in November 2019. Beforehand, a pilot was conducted to test the Bubble Barrier’s efficiency and showed that 86% of all test materials were successfully caught.



Every year, more than 8 million tons of plastic pollution ends up in our oceans of which 60-80% originates from rivers. Plastic does not biodegrade and causes great harm to the environment. Marine life gets entangled in plastics, vessels get damaged and microplastics form a health hazard for the smallest to the largest organisms.


The Great Bubble Barrier® has developed a technology which can intercept plastic pollution in rivers before it reaches the ocean: the Bubble Barrier, a bubble curtain with a catchment system. The bubble curtain is created by pumping air through a perforated tube on the bottom of the waterway. This bubble curtain creates an upward current that directs the plastics to the surface. By placing the bubble curtain diagonally in the river, the Bubble Barrier makes use of the natural flow of the river. This way, the plastic waste will be directed to the side and into the catchment system at the riverbank, where it will be retained and removed from the water. The Bubble Barrier is a unique sustainable system which: allows fish to pass, does not hinder ship traffic, covers the entire width and depth of the waterway. 

The Great Bubble Barrier® offers a solution for different problem owners: it can help governments meet changing regulations on waste management in waterways, but also help cities fight plastic problems in their waters, and help waterboards to save on their cleanups after high water.


Booms and hard installations that cross rivers, canals and other waterways can serve to collect and restrict the flow of plastic downstream. However, both of these solutions can inhibit boat traffic and/or fish movements.


The first proof of concept was conducted in Berlin with a Bubble Barrier of a length of 10 meters. The Bubble Barrier was then extensively tested in the water laboratory of Deltares. During their first pilot in November 2017, a pilot was launched in the river IJssel with Rijkswaterstaat, Deltares and BAM/vdHerik.  A 180 meters long Bubble Barrier in the river IJssel showed that the Bubble Barrier was capable of catching 86% of the test material. After this successful pilot, The Great Bubble Barrier joined a research project to assess the impact of the Bubble Barrier on microplastics with a size of 0.02 to 0.5 mm in Wervershoof. The first long-term Bubble Barrier in the world was placed in November 2019 in Amsterdam. Watch the video about Bubble Barrier Amsterdam.

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