An eco-design for collecting and separating waste plastic on a sandy beach, inspired by a Primary Engineer Leaders Award Concept
Group Members
Chung Kwan Lai, Yin Hoong Mok, Liang Pei Lim, Jun Wei Chan, Danica Tie, Marco Cardona
Supervisors
Professor Ian Williams, Dr Tim Woolman
Plastics pollution is a major environmental issue in the ocean. Microplastics, defined as plastic debris with size smaller than 5mm, can interact with marine organism through multiple pathways and cause damage to the marine life. This plastics debris is often washed up on the shore and leads to economic impact on tourism and industry on top of the ecological effects. While there are existing designs made by companies to collect large plastic debris from sand, existing microplastics in the sandy beach are still not being collected. Thus, the idea of the beach plastic collector, aiming to tackle both macroplastics and microplastics pollution in the sand, is proposed in this design.

This project started with the Primary Engineer Leaders Award concept which we then developed into our own design. The main aim for this project has been the design and development of a vehicle that can separate microplastics and macroplastics from sand with the cost of the development step taken in the project below the £850 budget limit.

The final design has been developed through multiple designs iterations and is verified through experimental observation and simulation. By considering the environmental and legal responsibilities in disposing hazardous waste to the ocean, NaCl is used instead of ZnCl2 as the density separating solution so as to minimise impact on aquatic life.
Rendering of Beach Plastic Collector (both front and back)

 

Render of the Beach Plastic Collector (front)

 

Render of the Beach Plastic Collector (front)

 

Prototype of the Beach Plastic Collector