Now, a local startup is using a weather-proof robot boat to help keep Hong Kong waters clear.
Taking a predetermined route, the 3-metre-long vessel autonomously collects waste, with a conveyor belt offloading it into a 200kg capacity container.
An AI camera system identifies the type of rubbish and records the place it was found. Data analysis should provide important information regarding future waste treatment.
Like these modern schooners the boat is electrically-powered with an onboard laser to help avoid collisions.
The robot could remove up to a ton of waste each day, as well as help contain oil spills.
This Dutch organisation, meanwhile, is already leading the way.