How Seabins Use Marinas to Collect Trash and Clean the Ocean

©. The Seabin Project

Marinas naturally concentrate trash. Seabins take advantage of that fact.

Some time ago, Kimberley posted about a crowdfunding campaign for Seabins—a simple invention which is placed in marinas and other waterside locations and filters out plastic, oil and other pollutants on an ongoing basis.

Our commenters had concerns: From clogging up with jellyfish to requiring too much emptying to be practical, many folks seemed convinced that it would never get off the ground.

Three years later, however, it appears that the team behind Seabins is going stronger than ever, and CNet recently paid them a visit to see how they are doing (see video below). Currently, the Seabins in use are catching microplastics down to 2mm in diameter, but CEO Pete Ceglinski says they have an even finer filter in development which should be able to capture plastics so small that they are not visible to the naked eye. Given the growing concern around microfibers in particular, this could be a very encouraging development.

Finally, there is another insight from the CNet report which I think is worthy of note. I had been thinking of Seabins as a great way to automate and increase the collection of trash that's produced in marinas but that, I think, is selling the project short. As Michelle Shadows of Ballena Isle Marina explains in the video, the trash that accumulates in marinas isn't just produced by boaters themselves. Due to their location, their shape, and the large number of structures in the water, marinas become a natural collection point for trash and pollution—unintentionally acting as a collection array much like those that are now being launched in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. And they also have a maintenance team ready to empty the Seabins and change out the filters too.

According to Ceglinski, there are Seabins on order for 70 countries around the world, and more orders are coming in all the time. Within ten years, the organization hopes to be launching free floating versions of their technology which can operate offshore and start cleaning up the plastic that's accumulating in the open ocean too.

Seabins are available for pre-order for ports, marinas and yacht clubs. Private sales are not yet open.