Saving the Seas with Automated Trash Bins

It may take two Australian surfers—and their automated rubbish bin—to save the sea from floating debris.

Two Australian surfers want to save the ocean—and its inhabitants—one piece of trash at a time. Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski have designed an in-water automated rubbish bin for use in marinas and ports that pulls in plastic and other debris that litter the sea.

The Seabin, which is basically a water filtering system, is an easy and economical way to clean up the unnatural objects floating about. We’ve all seen the horrifying photos of a sea turtle with a plastic six-pack holder around its neck, or a seal entangled in fishing line. According to PERSEUS, a marine environmental research project funded by the European Commission: One million seabirds are killed by marine litter every year; 100,000 sea turtles and marine animals, including dolphins, whales and seals, are killed by plastic marine litter every year; and more than 260 animal species worldwide have become entangled in or consumed fishing line, nets and ropes.

Clearly, we have a problem.

And, while operating on a much smaller scale than some of the more ambitious projects, like the Ocean Cleanup Project, intended to eliminate the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the Seabin promises to tidy up the corners of the ocean that are closer to the source of the problem, which happens to be us humans.

The Seabin looks like a kitchen garbage can that can be attached to the end of a floating dock. Sitting below the surface of the water, the filter includes a natural fiber “catch bag” that collects the stuff floating around, and, with an optional oil/water separator, it can clean up the water that is pumped out of the Seabin and back into the ocean. Marinas and harbors are a perfect place to start cleansing the water, as it is a fairly controlled environment with no open ocean swells. It is also where we are inattentive to our trash. An empty soda can or a plastic bag can be picked up by the wind and quickly swept off the bow of the boat. If we don’t retrieve our garbage, it becomes an unwelcomed object of the ocean.

The Seabin Project, started by Turton and Ceglinski, is supported by a seed investment from Australian marine technology development company Shark Mitigation Systems Pty Ltd (SMS), as well as a recent Indiegogo campaign that raised over $267,000.

Turton is a boat builder, sailor and surfer who conceived the concept after numerous sailing trips around the world and witnessing the amount of pollution that amasses in the marinas. Ceglinski is a surfer and an industrial designer. Together, the duo began the Seabin development at the design center “The Sea” a factory space in Palma Mallorca, Spain, and the central hub of Europe’s marine industry.

Today, the Seabin is in its final prototype phase with, hopefully, for the sake of our marine life, a move into commercialization following the crowd funding campaign.


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