Seabin - Waste Management in the World Ocean
If we can have a rubbish bin on land then why not have one in water
With that simple thought began the long way towards “Seabin”. You can clearly see the idea behind the name of the company. Sea – Bin! That's it! Unfortunately, it is not that simple. Not that simple at all! However, the Cofounder and Director Andrew Turton a.k.a Turtle had this idea in mind while building a boat for an event. From this point on he developed a couple of prototypes in a few years and they turned out to work just fine. Considering that these prototypes were made out of plastic buckets, glue and duck tape. It has been 7 years since that idea passed through his mind and he has made a lot of things possible during that time. Well, not alone, of course.
Andrew was once a boat maker and a sailor. He is well familiar with the problem with marine litter from first hand experience. In fact, he was once a professional sailor and has some serious boat making skills. Those skills are now put to work, building Seabin. Once a simple idea in his mind, now a ready for use product crafted by his own hands. With his 20 years of hands on experience, he proved his value to the Seabin team and developed a commercial product from concept sketch.
In 2013 Turtle met his buddy in greatness, Pete Ceglinski. Pete has a background in product design. Both teamed together and started the Australian “Seabin” Pty Ltd in 2015.
Pete is also a boat builder, surfer, fisherman and he even goes diving in Australia. He had also faced the problem with water pollution and its consequence on sea life. The background of skills and his believes towards better waste management of plastics, even his hobbies made the couple of minds click right on! In 2014 Pete quit his job and is going head first into the project Seabin! He finds an old furniture restoration factory and rents the place. A brave move, considering that he had invested most of his savings. But hey, that's what has to happen when you believe in yourself and those around you, right? With some finishing touches and restoration, the place is now headquarters for the Seabin Project. Located in Palma Mallorca, Spain. A beautiful small Spanish island. The perfect place to develop and test their product. You can find them on facebook, and twitter.
Seabin The Rubbish Collection Bin in the Water
Seabin is basically a trash bin in the water. However, we can't expect fishes and other sea life to throw our own litter in those bins, right?! That's why Seabins collect the rubbish on their own. With the help of a small water pump, the water from the ocean is being sucked in the Seabin. After that, it is being filtered through the catch bag of the bin and is then going back into the ocean. All of the plastics sucked in are being trapped in the catch bag and are collected from it afterward. Just like your rubbish bins are being collected once or twice per week.
The motor from the water pump is a small 24V motor. It was chosen to limit the footprint. It can be powered from the shore, connected to 110V or 220V power system with a small transformer to turn that voltage down to 24V. The founders of Seabin hope that one day their bins can be placed deeper inside oceans and that motor gives the opportunity to be powered by a solar power system. Imagine a bin with a small solar panel on top that is operating entirely on its own and all you have to do is collect the plastic from it once in a while. Brilliant!
This 24V is a feature of the V5 Seabin, we must say. The V4 is, of course, a bit more simple. It was designed for floating docks only, as the V5 is for both, floating and fixed docks. Also, it is fully efficient even when disrupted by the large wake created by boat traffic. That only proves that the company is really striving to improve their product to its maximum potential.
How to Collect Waste Without Making Some
The dream behind Seabin is actually for it to be 100% recycled product. And that is why the main body of the V5 version is made from PE plastic. Yes! That's right! In order for them to be able to make Seabins from the plastic that they collect from the sea. Isn't that genius. Well, yes, but it has a couple of challenges on the way to success.
First of all the very catch bag. It has to be a fine filter, it has to catch microscopic plastic pieces and it has to let water through. On top of all that it has to be 100% biodegradable. The answer is in hessian fiber, commonly known as burlap. This fiber comes from the plant called jute and is harvested mainly in Asian countries. Jute fiber is the second most important vegetable fiber after cotton.
This makes it easy to find and affordable. Plus that the qualities of the fiber makes it the best solution for the catch bag. The most important thing, it is 100% biodegradable. If your catch bag is damaged, you just throw it in the garden, it will even boost up your soil a bit.
Problems in Front of Navy Rubbish Clearance
The product must move “off docks”. At this point, this is not possible because of various reasons.
- Microplastics: First of all the Seabin must be able to collect microplastics. The problem with that is that microplastics have the same size as plankton, and this means that it will also be trapped inside. Now, we don't want this to happen! There are a couple of ways to prevent that, but the BEST one is not yet chosen.
- Trapped sea life: Next one is very similar. What if we catch fish in our nets, we don't want that to happen either, right! This is why the company is working on a system that will keep sea life away of the bin. This system will be implemented in future models. After being perfected, of course.
- Power options: The third problem in front the moving “off dock” of the Seabin is the powering of the pump. Yes, the 24V motor gives a lot of opportunities for powering it, yet the best one is not chosen. You may add a propeller at the bottom to collect energy from the tides, or at the top to collect energy from the wind. The best thing might be a double channel energy supply. A combination of two different ways, in order to achieve maximum efficiency. However, as we mentioned above the proper type is about to be chosen and tested before moving to another phase.
The Bigger Picture of Marine Waste Management and Seabin
Everybody involved in the project believes that this is only the beginning! They have developed this multiple approach against water, litter pollution. The first phase is, of course, the Seabin product. But they say that the most important element in their approach is the educational program. The idea behind is to, well educate! Knowing the problems with marine pollution, and knowing the effect it has on the sea life and the trouble hidden in the near future will give people a deeper understanding of what happens if they simply don't care. Because when it comes to a point when those consequences are visible to everybody, it would be already too late. The final pin in their multiple approach is the scientific research program. Knowing the enemy, makes you fight it way better and is preparing you for its tricks.
The Future of Rubbish Removal in Sea
Imagine one day in near future when you have Seabins placed at key locations in seas, rivers, lakes and so on. Of course, they will keep those water basins clean and with that “Educational Program” we might just have established the right waste management mentality and there will be a lower level of pollutions. The founders of Seabin hope that one day there will be no need of Seabins in the water. Well, I doubt that, sadly. But, it is a great creation that combined with other factors could keep plastic out of the world ocean! We like to be on the tip of the wave, maybe we should start saving some money for Tom's Rubbish Collection Boats. Turtle might as well make some for us. Joke aside, this really could be a feature service. And we could really benefit from a product like that. Afterall, we are an island. But for now, you only have regular rubbish removal and plain ordinary waste bins.