Published on June 17, 2024
Project Status
Wanda Diaz Project
  • innovation
Start Date


Meet Wanda Diaz, our water wheel! Wanda is an innovative system, the first in Latin America, that uses hydraulic energy and solar panels to collect and remove solid waste that floats in the river, preventing it from reaching the sea.

This flagship project of Marea Verde has 3 main components: research, engineering, environmental awareness and education.

Engineering Component:
The Wanda system operates with state-of-the-art technology created by Clearwater Mills in Baltimore, United States, complemented by locally developed elements.

Wanda has a conveyor belt system that is powered by the water wheel and solar panels. The first conveyor belt loads all the floating waste collected, which is then manually separated by the cleaning crew of Fundación Jesús Luz de Oportunidades. The plastics, mainly PET (1) and HDPE (2), are placed on a second conveyor belt that takes them to the collection center where they are accumulated and compacted for recycling. Waste that is not plastic and that cannot be recycled is transported for proper disposal.

In 2024, thanks to the German Embassy, we added Rocco to our team, a compactor machine that helps reduce the storage volume and transportation trips of these plastics.

Awareness and education component:
In parallel with the work of Wanda and B.o.B., Marea Verde works with communities upstream of the Juan Díaz River Basin to educate about the importance of not throwing waste into the river. Since the end of 2021 we have reached more than 35 schools and about 25,000 people including teachers, students, officials of Community Boards, Health Centers, MEDUCA dependencies, among others.

The Action Plan of this program includes talks, presentations and workshops to learn how to separate recyclable material, collection and separation activations at the Billy Truck Mobile Clean Point (of Fundación Costa Recicla) in 2 locations in San Miguelito, artistic activities with murals, tires, garbage tanks, among others.

The selected communities are in the districts of Panama and San Miguelito, specifically in the townships of Belisario Frías, Arnulfo Arias, Rufina Alfaro, Omar Torrijos, Ernesto Córdoba Campos and Juan Díaz. These townships are located within the Juan Díaz River basin.

Within this component we work with the Wanda Educa program, a school program that incorporates 6 transversal axes. Learn more about Wanda Educa. (put button for Wanda Educa page)

Research Component:
The research component allows us to collect information and data on floating waste pollution in the Juan Díaz River basin, which will be made available to stakeholders to create public policies, community projects, and other instruments that help to understand this problem and find solutions.

An innovation of Wanda Díaz is the use of cameras, which, through artificial intelligence, help generate images and data that allow waste to be analyzed and categorized.

On the other hand, using a drone and satellite images we were able to identify around 150 critical points of accumulation of waste (pataconcitos) in the middle and upper basins.

Some data on Wanda's collection

January - December 2024
of waste
of plastic, equivalent to:
2.3 millions of plastic bottles
4.6 millions of plastic bags
First Semester 2024

May has been the month with the greatest Wanda’s collection since its installation:

  • 45 tons of waste (35% of the 2023 total).
  • 4.5 tons of plastic.