The Solar-Powered Catamaran Clearing the Ocean of Plastic

The solar-powered catamaran is already helping to save the planet
The solar-powered catamaran is already helping to save the planet | © The Prizm Network / iBi Foundation
Photo of Cassam Looch
Film Editor10 March 2020

Setting an ambitious target of ridding itself of single-use plastic by 2023, the Spanish island of Ibiza recently unveiled an innovative new method of combating the human-made scourge of the seas. An award-winning catamaran design powered entirely by the elements has set sail and is on course to clean up the Mediterranean.

Can this award-winning boat help clean up the seas? | | © The Prizm Network / iBi Foundation

The iBi recently set sail around the Balearic Islands and Ibiza with a unique plastic filtration system onboard. Speaking to Culture Trip, iBi Foundation creators Ed and Joke explain how this small boat is making a big impact.

“The iBi Foundation is dedicated to cleaning the oceans of plastic in order to keep the environment clean for human and marine life,” they say. “Our initiative was started after the rescue of a sea turtle – which we rescued after [it was] being strangled in plastic in July 2017. We noticed a great amount of plastic floating around at sea and did not hesitate in starting with this project, as the pollution is a permanent and ongoing threat to marine life. Now, we go out daily collecting plastic with volunteers; our unique custom-built boat has nets that collect the ocean plastic. We find everything from chairs and fridge doors to plastic from Africa!”

The Dutch duo set about combating the surge in ocean plastics by adapting an existing boat with an innovation that might seem obvious now, but at the time, it was unheard of.

“As we were in search of a clean-up vessel, we came across many candidates, but the zero-emission option that was at hand with the La Bella Verde catamaran was obviously the best way to clean the oceans and do it emission-free. We then got to work developing this idea, and last year [in 2019], we were very happy to see this dream become a reality.”

The iBi has a net in the centre of the vessel that lowers into the water | | © The Prizm Network / iBi Foundation

The design makes full use of the two-hull setup that differentiates catamarans from other boats. The net frame is lowered into the water from the centre of the vessel, guiding the plastic in but allowing marine life to swim around and avoid being caught.

“We are only receiving positive reactions from everyone whom we speak to about our project. Locals, businesses and tourists are really excited about our project,” Ed and Joke say, before going on to highlight how pressing the need to fight pollution in our oceans really is.

“The plastic crisis is bigger than anyone can see. Even around a small island like Ibiza, there are already millions of tiny and larger pieces floating around. However, the problem is that most beaches are clean, but fields of plastic are floating around being transported by wind and current and don’t come ashore because of it. People can think that it looks OK, but the truth is really different. We encounter days of cleaning where we clean out thousands of small and large pieces of plastics.”

The iBi has a unique plastic-filtration system that is helping to clean the waters around Ibiza | | © The Prizm Network / iBi Foundation

The target of 2023 seems ambitious when it comes to ending the availability of single-use plastic on the island, but Ed and Joke are confident of getting there with the help of others. “Charities such as Ibiza Preservation Fund are bringing lots of businesses and other charities together to create the plastic-free Ibiza movement, which we are part of. Working together is the only way we will be able to do this. Ibiza is a very forward-thinking island, and we believe we could hit this target like other places, such as Bali.”

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