Tampa launches “Litter Skimmer” boat to clean local waterways

a boat collects trash via a conveyer belt loop in the water

A trash skimming boat, Litter Skimmer, is now cleaning up the waters around the city of Tampa. We appreciate you, Litter Skimmer, and you’re now the real MVP of Champa Bay. The City of Tampa unveiled the new trash collecting boat during a press event on July 9. Other cities have used these types of boats/trash wheels to clean their waters. Baltimore’s Mr. Trash Wheel has grown into an Insta-famous tool for environmental protection.

“Litter Skimmer” by the City of Tampa’s Solid Waste Department will operate eight hours a day, four days per week, picking up floating trash along the Hillsborough River, Davis Islands, and the Bay. According to the Ocean Conservancy, the top contributor to marine debris is single-use, or disposable, plastic products, including container caps and lids, beverage bottles, plastic bags, food wrappers, cups, plates, cutlery, and drinking straws. Single-use plastic utensils and containers threaten marine environments because they do not fully break down or decompose.

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Litter Skimmer keeps Tampa Bay beautiful

When littered or caught by the wind, these items get washed into stormwater drains that empty into streams, rivers, bays, and other waterways. Over 168,000 pounds of aquatic trash was recovered from the Hillsborough River in 2019. The city continues to implement measures to keep the waters, and parks of Tampa clean. This includes the Bead Free Bay initiative for Gasparilla.

The best way to reduce environmental impacts when it comes to waste is to prevent making it in the first place. Practicing waste reduction leads us to divert less materials to regular disposal methods like waste-to-energy or landfills. Not only does it lead to less items going to disposal but it also reduces litter, saves resources, and saves money. This will require some new habits of refusing disposable items, repairing what can be fixed, and reducing our food waste.

Tampa officials have gathered a list of resources and mechanisms for folks to reduce waste at home, at work, and elsewhere — and you can view their entire advisement on Tampa’s official website.

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