Bridging the water

Co create to learn & experience


Living Lab: Plastic Interception and Detection in the Liesbeek River in Cape Town

The OKP Programme ‘Bridging the water’ kicked-off the new Living Lab: Plastic Interception and Detection in the Liesbeek River in Cape Town. The Living Lab is set up by UCT and TU Delft in collaboration with 2 start-ups: The Litterboom Project and Obscape, to map the plastic pollution floating in the river downstream. We will use innovative monitoring equipment, while the start-ups and students work together to collect data and to research the pollution problem.  This Living Lab will bridge the gap between theory and practice and aims to contribute to the solution for the river pollution problem.


The South African and global river systems deliver the greatest volume of marine plastic pollution when reaching the oceans. For this reason, they need to be restored to their natural, healthy state. This restoration needs to start upstream. There is an urgent need for efforts to focus on interception solutions, as well as to understand how these rivers can be remediated from both plastic pollution and other contaminants. The Liesbeek river in Cape Town offers a great opportunity to gain more knowledge on this problem.

The Litterboom team has placed three booms along the Liesbeek river and several monitoring devices to catch and monitor plastic flowing downstream. The students at the partnering universities will be encouraged to get involved in the data collection and to analyse these data. Besides monitoring and data collection, the river will be cleaned by local teams.

This will be the next step after the virtual Living Lab on the Liesbeek river in 2020. In the previous virtual Living Lab 30 students from 6 universities collaborated on finding solutions to improve the Liesbeek river. One of the challenges found is pollution on which this pilot will continue to work on.

More information on the Living Lab will follow in the next update!


The Living Lab is co-organised by OKP-partners: University of Cape Town, Technical University of Delft, the University of Applied Sciences Rotterdam, CEW Leeuwarden, the World Water Academy, the Durban University of Technology and the City of Cape Town. 

Bridging the Water is part of the Orange Knowledge Programme.