For centuries, humans have used the ocean as well as fresh waterways as a sort of dumping ground for various types of pollution, like factory farm runoff, oil, and sewage. As a result, in the United States alone, half of all rivers are too polluted to support healthy aquatic life.  And that pollution oftentimes makes it back into our bodies in some way or another, usually by way of our food and water. Now, solar-powered river barges are turning the tide.
Solid refuse like plastics, glass, polystyrene, and other materials are also commonly dumped in rivers when no other options for proper disposal are available. These rivers eventually run to the seas where they collect in gyres. The NOAA defines gyres as a “large system of rotating ocean currents.” 
“Wind, tides, and differences in temperature and salinity drive ocean currents,” the NOAA writes on its website. “The ocean churns up different types of currents, such as eddies, whirlpools, or deep ocean currents. Larger, sustained currents—the Gulf Stream, for example—go by proper names. Taken together, these larger and more permanent currents make up the systems of currents known as gyres.”
There are five primary gyres on Earth. They are located in the North Pacific, South Pacific, the North Atlantic and South Atlantic, and one in the Indian ocean.
Being a point of confluence for multiple currents, these gyres are able to easily collect debris flowing in from rivers and other sources, forming massive “garbage islands“ in various parts of the ocean. The impact of our garbage reaching the sea is far-reaching. It’s estimated that our plastic pollution kills 1 million sea birds and 100,000 sea turtles and other marine mammals, like dolphins, whales and seals, every single year. 
Stopping this litter at its source is critical to preventing this harm to wildlife and the environment in which they live as well as protecting human lives impacted by this refuse. In 2018, research conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, concluded that “more than a quarter of all the world’s marine plastic waste may be pouring in from just 10 rivers, eight of them in Asia.”  One Asian nation, Malaysia, is now working to turn the tide, so to speak, on this horrible issue.
Enter: solar-powered river barges
On the Klang river near Kuala Lumpur, officials have deployed a solar-powered trash collection barge called The Interceptor, in an attempt to remove plastic, and other types of solid refuse, from the Klang River. Thesolar-powered river barge is a total of 78 feet long (24 meters) and looks a bit like a houseboat. The trash in the river is directed toward an opening in the barge where a conveyor belt collects it and stores it in a large dumpster inside of the solar-powered river barges.