Skip to main content
Great Bubble Barrier team
Revive Our
2022 Finalist

The Great Bubble Barrier

Area of Impact:

Every year, more than 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the world’s oceans. The Great Bubble Barrier's solution intercepts plastic waste before it reaches the sea.

Their Story

The majority of plastic in the seas come from our rivers and canals where it harms wildlife, damages boats and contributes to climate change. But once plastic waste has entered our oceans, it is nearly impossible to capture and remove.

In The Netherlands, a country defined by its waterways, a team of ocean enthusiasts led by Francis Zoet, Anne Marieke Eveleens, and Philip Ehrhorn have developed an ingenious way to stop harmful plastic from reaching our oceans. Meet The Great Bubble Barrier.

The technology behind the Bubble Barrier is simple: air is pumped through a perforated tube placed diagonally on the riverbed to create a “curtain” of bubbles, which directs plastic up to the surface and into a waste collection system, all without obstructing wildlife or boats.

The concept has been used in the past by the oil industry to contain spills and has now been developed to help local authorities remove debris from our rivers.

To date, the Bubble Barrier has been proven to catch on average 86 percent of plastic waste. Several Bubble Barriers have been installed in The Netherlands, including in the Westerdok, one of Amsterdam’s famous canals. Each month, Bubble Barrier Amsterdam stops an average of 8,000 pieces of plastic waste from leaving the canal and entering the North Sea.

Two new Bubble Barriers will soon be implemented in Germany and Portugal. The team now hopes to scale the technology to reach polluted rivers worldwide, especially in Asia.

Their impact so far

Since becoming an Earthshot Prize Finalist in 2022, The Great Bubble Barrier are accelerating their mission to stop plastic from polluting our oceans. In November 2023, the team launched its third Bubble Barrier in Vila Do Conde, Portugal. This is its first Bubble Barrier outside the Netherlands.

2024 Impact Report cover download box

Read the 2024 Impact Report

Download our 2024 Impact Report and dive into the details of what our global community has achieved to date.

The Earthshot Prize