Plastic bag floating in the ocean with seaweed

Automated ‘Seabin’ dispatched on British coast to clean up sea

Image credit: Dreamstime

A “floating rubbish bin” which removes rubbish from the sea has been deployed in the Solent, near Portsmouth. It is the first commercial Seabin in the world.

A 2015 study published in Science estimated that eight million tonnes of plastic are thrown in the oceans every year, the vast majority of which comes from land-based sources. While many governments and corporations are taking steps to reduce, reuse and recycle waste, there remains a strong need for ocean clean-up efforts.

The Seabin was developed by former designer Peter Ceglinkski, who is now CEO of the Seabin Project. The device is shaped like a large, approximately cylindrical bin and its rim floats on the surface of the water. A small, submersible water pump sucks in seawater and while rubbish is trapped in a catch bag, clean water is returned to the sea.

Through this mechanism, a single Seabin is expected to be able to remove 1.5kg of rubbish every day, or the equivalent of 83,000 shopping bags or 20,000 plastic bottles (approximately half a tonne) in a year. It can hold approximately 12kg of rubbish before it needs emptying.

Due to the size of its filter, it can collect items as small as 2mm, such as polystyrene balls. According to its founders, Seabins could also play a significant role in reducing the amount of microplastics found in the ocean, due to most of these pollutants coming from the disintegration of larger pieces of plastic.

According to its designers, the Seabin is capable of catching “everything floating in the water: plastic bottles, paper, oil, fuel and detergent”, through features such as oil absorption materials incorporated into the Seabin’s catch bag.

The running cost of a Seabin is low, at just 75p a day. There are currently 10 in place in ports and marinas in seven countries around the world, thanks to a successful online crowdfunding campaign which raised $550,000 (£495,000). The Portsmouth Seabin is the first commercial Seabin in the world.

It has been strategically placed in “Debris problem area” near the base of the Land Rover BAR sailing team, where the wind and currents are expected to bring rubbish floating towards the device. The sailing team brought the Seabin to the area as part of its bid to become the “most sustainable sailing team in the world”.

Elsewhere, a floating platform with 100m long arms has been deployed further out to sea to collect rubbish from the ocean in the Ocean Cleanup project.

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