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Floating litter trap fishes waste from the River Rhine

Since September 2022, the litter trap of the Cologne-based non-profit association K.R.A.K.E has been floating on the River Rhine at kilometre 690.3 near the Zoobrücke bridge, where it fishes waste out of the Rhine. One of the sponsors of the so-called "Rheinkrake" is plastics specialist, Igus.


According to the association K.R.A.K.E. (Kölner-Rhein-Aufräum-Kommando-Einheit - Cologne Rhine Clean-up Squad), one tonne of waste floats every day from the Rhine into the North Sea and from there into the world's oceans. In mid-September, with the aim of reducing the discharges from the Rhine and the pollution of the river with plastic waste, the association installed the floating litter trap "Rheinkrake" at a bend in the Rhine near the Cologne Zoobrücke bridge. A member of the association had observed the concept of the passive litter catchers in action during a stay in London. It was a catching device with a basket fixed between two floats, open counter to the direction of flow. Together with the hydraulic engineering firm Schumacher, the Rheinkrake was designed according to this model and built in a shipyard in Niederkassel, further along the Rhine. It consists of two floats, 10.30 metres long, and is 4.70 metres wide. Between the floating sections there are two catching baskets that open into the direction of flow. The litter trap can be positioned to allow as much waste as possible to float into the trap and be collected. A massive rake on the bow keeps large driftwood and logs from entering the trap. According to Christian Stock, founder of the K.R.A.K.E. Association, the Rheinkrake can also be used in other locations and at different water levels. He emphasised that the device has been designed so that it does not endanger fish or birds, nor does it interfere with shipping traffic. According to Stock, the collected litter will be documented and scientifically evaluated, adding that a litter classification scheme has been created in cooperation with the University of Bonn. A long-term study on plastic waste in the Rhine will later provide recommendations for action for politicians, administrators and civil society.


The association received support for the Rheinkrake project from, among others, the Cologne-based company Igus, which develops and produces products made of high-performance plastics for industry. The declared aim of the company, which says it also manufactures products from up to 100 percent recycled material, is to promote a circular economy for plastics.



  • (20.9.2022)
  • (8.10.2022)
  • Photo: © Igus

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