Plastic pollution in ecosystems is an artificial tragedy that appears incomprehensible. In the long run, limiting our plastic usage by avoiding single-use plastic is the simplest method to help relieve the situation, but it won’t fix the issue in the immediate term. 

According to the United Nations (UN), nearly 8 million tons of plastic garbage wind up in oceans around the world annually, ravaging aquatic ecosystems.

A marine wildlife photojournalist took a shot of a seahorse clutching a cotton swab, illustrating how we are gagging the oceans with plastic while turning a blind eye to it.

Floating garbage, including plastic debris and microplastics, can be discovered on some of the most isolated coasts of outlying islands, Arctic sea ice, ocean depths, and inside a wide range of marine animals. 

Per the UN projections, given the current rate of pouring single-use plastic waste into waterways, oceans would hold more plastic than fish by 2050.

So, what can be done to ensure that our waters remain contamination-free for subsequent generations?

What is the Seabin project?

The Seabin Project is a green tech startup headquartered in Australia and Europe. Its objective is fundamental but ambitious to address the global problem of ocean plastic waste and ocean restoration. 

The Seabin Project creates cutting-edge upstream technology for cleaner, more resilient marina, docks, waterways, public canals, and, eventually, oceans.

Unmanaged trash, such as macro and micro-plastic litter, and microfibers, could be intercepted by Seabin innovations before they enter the sea.

Why should we concentrate on marina, ports, and sailboats? Because these are semi-controlled settings with no severe ocean storms, services are offered 24 hours a day and seven days a week. 

Marinas and harbors are important regions where unmanaged trash may migrate from land to water, with 322 million tons of plastic produced and consumed in 2015

Furthermore, the Seabin Project aspires to collaborate with marine institutions to realize their sustainability and progress ambitions.

How does the Seabin operate?

Mechanism of Seabin project V5| Illustration by Seabin Project

The Seabin is a floating rubbish container that may be cleaned and updated from time to time at sailboats, docks, marinas, and other coastlines. 

Now talking about its mechanism, water is pulled in from the exterior and passed through a trap bag fitted inside the Seabin, which collects all drifting trash. 

Therefore, the water is returned to the sea, trapping the trash and junk in the waste bin for safe disposal. 

As a result, the Seabin needs constant maintenance by various ecologically aware organizations in multiple areas. 

The Seabin can also gather some oils and fluid contaminants floating on the sea’s surface. Presently, the Seabins are using 12-volt underwater water pumps, which can be powered by alternate and greener power sources. 

Based on the geographic region and current engineering solutions, this might be conducted with solar, tidal, or wind energy.

The Seabin can gather up to 3.9 kilograms of marine debris each day, or 1.4 tons annually depending on weather and waste volumes, comprising microplastics as tiny as 2 millimeters.

How did the Seabin project come to shape?

Seabin volunteers - Seabin project
Julia Nicholson, one of the 40 committed Seabin volunteers| Photo from Seabin Project

Pete Ceglinski and Andrew Turton, two Australian surfers, sailors, and ocean lovers, did not want to continue the ocean plastic horror without making things better.

As a result, they set a target in 2015 to help ensure pollution-free seas for succeeding generations. 

They both resigned from their professions and formed Seabin with their goal. They introduced their vision to reality and constructed the Seabin ‘Version One’ to sweep up the drifting plastic thanks to a successful USD 260,000 crowd-funding effort.

The Seabin Project began with the support of crowdsourcing. When awarded a grant for environmental startups from the Booking Cares Fund in the Netherlands, it gained a considerable push. 

The motor and vessel equipment manufacturers Wärtsilä, which became engaged as part of its corporate responsibility to the marine ecosystem, was an essential partner in the prototype stage. 

Wärtsilä has supported Seabins in three Finnish ports and expects to continue purchasing the equipment for ports in all nations where it does business. 

Pete’s former UK employer, the Land Rover BAR, participated in the pilot program. The Seabin’s manufacturer, a French yacht designer, geared up for the entire commercial business after efficiently producing hundreds of prototypes. 

Seabin to catch microplastic and microfibre

Stats of sea-bin project
Stats of Plastic collected by Sea-bin project as of 2022 7th February | Statistics by Seabin Project

The Seabin Project was established to purify the ocean’s cover of the floating waste in a single marina at a time. 

During the study, experts discovered that these receptacles collected a substantial chunk of microplastic in the rivers and streams of ports and marinas, even though this was not the intended outcome. Meanwhile, the Seabins contain microplastic particles ranging from 2 mm to 5 mm.

Sea-bin group established marinas as key for deploying Seabins for macro and microplastic capture, but there is no data on the number of microplastics within ports and marinas. 

Hence, the producers have constructed a precise catch-bag to supervise and seize microplastics empirically. 

The research establishment will then use this knowledge to optimize our understanding of plastic pollution in our oceans. While using the technology, scientists discovered that 18% of the microplastics caught by Seabins were filamentous.

The macro/microplastics to microfibers ratio of 5:1 assures that the influence on microorganisms is low and follows the reproductive capacities. 

While the proportion of microorganisms detected in contaminated sites of a marina is expected to be modest, this study is still in its initial stages. 

However, far more study is needed to clarify whether this procedure has a beneficial or destructive impact on the ecosystem.

Saving our oceans and species

Seabin Project Indonesia
Ocean waste collection in Indonesia; Seabin in action| Photo from Seabin Project

The Seabin’s principal goal is to safeguard the water, including its creatures, from pollutants. The bin’s gripping mechanism lies on the ocean’s surface to protect sea life, stopping fish from getting dragged inside. 

The system can remove plastic garbage from the waters and oil and detergents. Plastic bottles, sachets, snack packs, cigarette butts, and plastic straws are all found abundantly in our seas, affecting aquatic life.

Conclusion

So far, we have 860 floating sea-bins worldwide with 3,612.8 kg captures per day and 2,540,660 kg captures as of 6th January 2021.

Oceans deliver more than 50 percent of the atmospheric oxygen and absorb an overwhelming volume of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions.

They are an indispensable element of the diet and home to about 230,000 creatures. No doubt, there is no life in the absence of clean oceans. 

Seas are the lifeline of our world and humanity, and keeping them pristine is to our most significant advantage.

Thousands of aquatic creatures, seabirds, and habitats are lost or damaged each year. And, if we want this to stop, we must take action to protect our vital waterways. 

The Seabin is only one stride in the direction of a better ocean. However, much more is required. 

Instead of collecting and disposing of debris once it reaches the sea, the emphasis should be on minimizing the amount of rubbish that makes its way to our water.

If you wonder which rivers require such technologies, follow our article on the 20 most polluted rivers in the world.

(Last Updated on April 30, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Shradha Bhatta holds a Bachelors’s Degree in Social Work along with a Post-graduate degree in Project Management from Georgian College in Canada. Shradha enjoys writing on a variety of topics and takes pleasure in discovering new ideas. She likes traveling and spending time with nature. She is a very people-person who loves talking about climate change and alerting people to go green!