Here’s what New Bedford’s trash skimmer is catching

NEW BEDFORD — Greg Pimentel and Shay Ribeiro bent over a folding table set on the dock at Pier 3. Covering it was a brown pile of organic matter speckled with the bright, artificial colors of plastic.

For more than one hour, they sorted with gloved hands through multiple piles  counting cigarette butts, food wrappers, plastic fragments and other pieces of human waste. When they were done, they dumped everything into a barrel.  

“If more people took care or properly disposed of trash, we would only have organic material here,” Pimentel, director of community outreach at the Community Boating Center, said. 

Empty alcohol beverage bottles are some of the items that Greg Pimentel and Shay Ribeiro of the Community Boating Center, pulled from the skimmer they have installed at Pier 3 in New Bedford.

The material they pulled came from the trash skimmer first installed in 2019. For 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the floating box gobbles up harbor water and all its detritus. 

The skimmer is named Walley and much like the Pixar robot, Wall-E, that cleans Earth one piece of trash at a time, the water skimmer sucks up human waste to make the New Bedford Harbor a bit cleaner.

More:New device to keep New Bedford’s harbor cleaner

Walley was installed through a partnership between the New Bedford Port Authority, Community Boating Center and Clean Ocean Access, but it went on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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