The Seabin Project is the brainchild of two Australian sailors and aims to make a dent in the sea of plastic in our oceans “one marina at a time”. Toby Hodges explains

Dame Ellen MacArthur made headlines recently by quoting memorable statistics that included: “One refuse truck’s worth of plastic is dumped into the sea every minute”, which will result in there “being more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050”.

The problem of ocean pollution is already at a scale that is so hard to comprehend it can be daunting for people even to know where to start trying to help.

Perhaps automated ‘hoovers’ installed in the marinas where much of the plastic we insist on crippling our seas with originates, make a logical place to start to tackle this global problem. ‘Clean up the oceans, one marina at a time’ is Seabin’s slogan.

The Seabin Project is the brainchild of two Australian sailors and surfers. It’s basically a floating dustbin that collects rubbish, oil, fuel and detergents 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Designed for marinas, ports and yacht clubs initially – controlled environments without swell – one Seabin can pick up half a tonne of rubbish annually.

How it works

Seabin uses a dock-based water pump to create water flow, working like a fish tank aerator by pumping air to suck floating rubbish into the natural fibre mesh bag. The water can also be pumped through an oil/water separator to catch and filter out fuel, oil and detergents in the water.

The catch bag needs to be changed once every day or two, however the founders claim never to have caught a fish or marine animal in four years of product testing.

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The Palma-based Aussies Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski developed a prototype before seeking crowdfunding in November. By January they had exceeded their target.

“We have a great facility set up at The Sea [in Palma] where we make nearly everything ourselves,” they said. “But for the first run of the Seabins we will need to outsource some components.”

“We are now in talks with a manufacturer/distributor,” Ceglinski told me following the crowdfunding success. “We hope to have the agreement signed by the end of next week. Then we will start the production phase.”

Spreading the word

Seabin is in negotiation with a European-based manufacturer for manufacturing and distribution. During the crowdfunding campaign the unit price was listed at US$3,825, but product details and final pricing will not be confirmed until June/July.

Perhaps more importantly the company is rapidly growing worldwide support. Its Facebook page already has 85,000 followers and its promo videos have been viewed over 120 million times.

One of the biggest goals of Turton and Ceglinski is to raise awareness about plastic in the ocean and how to create cleaner oceans. It’s about educating “people and cultures about being more responsible with the use and disposal of plastics”.

Studies have estimated there are now five trillion pieces of plastic in the world’s oceans, and 30 per cent of marine fish are considered to have plastic in their stomachs. No sailor can do too much to help.

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