The Seabin is a floating rubbish bin that sucks up debris and it is placed in the water at marinas, docks, yacht clubs, and commercial ports. Two Australian surfers – Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinksi – set up the Seabin Project in response to the problem of ocean waste. 12.7m tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean every year and the company says this is down to “human over consumption and waste mismanagement” for this colossal issue. The company states that its ultimate goal is to “have pollution free oceans for our future generations”. And it is continually working to improve the device and make it more widely available.
How it works
You may be wondering how a rubbish bin in the ocean can collect waste without anyone there to pick it up and put it in there. This is where the ingenious design of the Seabin comes in. The company highlights:
The Seabin moves up and down with the range of tide collecting all floating rubbish. Water is sucked in from the surface and passes through a catch bag inside the Seabin, with a submersible water pump capable of displacing 25.000 LPH (litres per hour), plugged directly into 110/22V outlet. The water is then pumped back into the marina leaving litter and debris trapped in the catch bag to be disposed of properly.
The Seabin also has the potential to collect a percentage of oils and pollutants floating on the water surface.
The device can hold up to 20kg before it needs emptying and should be checked twice every day. The Seabin also needs to be cleaned once a month.
It is placed in a specific ‘debris problem area’, such as the marina on a floating dock. This is strategic positioning because the wind and currents push the trash directly into the Seabin.
In an interview with The Guardian, the two inventors emphasised that there’s no risk of fish getting caught in the bin because they don’t swim close enough to the surface.
How it performs
It is estimated that the Seabin can collect 1.5kgs of floating debris per day, including microplastics up to 2mm small. With these figures in mind, this means that one device can rid the ocean of half a tonne of rubbish every year.
In one year, a single Seabin is able to catch 90,000 plastic bags, 35,700 disposable cups, 16,500 plastic bottles, and 165,500 plastic utensils.
However, despite the Seabin being a game changer in terms of cleaning up the ocean, it is by no means the silver bullet for ocean waste.
Firstly, the device isn’t suitable for open ocean since there are too many waves. Secondly, one Seabin is not enough per location – you would probably need four at your typical marina. One Seabin costs £3,000, so cleaning up the water at a marina would prove to be quite expensive.
Also, the inventors hope to manufacture 360 Seabins a month, which means the devices will only be able to make a small difference in cleaning up the waste at debris problem areas. Turton and Ceglinski do, however, realise this and so part of their project’s emphasis is rethinking the way that we treat the ocean. The Seabin is just a part of the solution. On a more fundamental level, we need to educate ourselves about how to live sustainably.
About the author: Sam Woolfe @samwoolfe
Sam is a writer who is especially interested in space exploration, sustainability, tech, agriculture, and nutrition.