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Seabin: The Floating Garbage Can

  -   1. May 2017
Source: Dzed/

8 million tons. 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean every year. In general, the world’s population produces 300 million tons of plastic per year, only half of this number used a single time.

History and Facts

When did this excessive plastic use start? The birth of our modern plastic era was in the year 1907 with the invention of “Bakelite”, the first synthetic plastic made of fossil fuels (Knight, 2014). Thenceforward, increasingly different kinds of plastic were developed and are used in almost all fields and areas of life. Of course, plastic has some positive attributes: it is very cheap and adaptable. The other side of the coin predominates and looks more shocking.

Here are some facts about the use and lifetime of plastic:

  • A simple plastic bottle needs 450 years to be decomposed
  • Packaging is with over 40% of total plastic usage, the largest end use market segment
  • Approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used annually worldwide
  • More than one million bags are used every minute
  • A plastic bag is used in average for only 15 minutes
  • Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole last century

In addition, the amount of time plastic needs to be decomposed is shocking. Also, the fact that we harm and endanger the environment, as well as our own life and health. The fish and animals eat plastic, because they mistake it as food or entangle themselves into it. Thus, many species are threatened with extinction and the plastic is also attacking our food chain (Plastic Oceans, 2017)

Counteractive Measures

As you could observe in the last few years, some countries started to deal with the subject of ocean pollution and their government introduced laws to reduce the plastic bag usage. Also in Germany, people now must pay to use plastic bags. As a result, a lot of companies began to behave environmentally responsibly and started autonomously to offer cloth or paper bags instead of plastic.

Indeed, there are already a few existing methods, addressing the oceans’ pollution, so-called “trash boats”. It is about boats which drive around harbors while scooping up floating garbage. Unfortunately, they are very expensive to run and to maintain (Ceglinski, 2016).

After four years of development, the two Australians Andrew Turton, a surfer, sailor and boat builder and Pete Ceglinski, an industrial designer and surfer, finally introduced last year an

invention, that helps to solve and prevent the oceans pollution problems and makes them cleaner: Seabin.

How does Seabin work and why is it special?

Seabin consists of a cylinder, which is located in the water, fixed to a floating dock while one end is on the water’s surface.

A water pump on the shore creates a flow of water into the bin, that brings rubbish with it.

The rubbish is caught and stored in a catch bag, made of natural fiber and the water is then pumped back into the ocean.

This new ocean cleaning system can run for 24 hours a day, are easy to empty and with a price of around $3,800 a cheap and worthy investment. It is mainly targeted to harbors, ports, yacht clubs, inland water ways, lakes and rivers. Of course, also business or boat owners with an own marina may be interested in their proper Seabin (Griffith, 2015). Where is the difference to the already existing “trash boats”? Due to the fact, that they are much smaller than a boat, they can reach almost every corner in a marina. It is a solution and a prevention at the same time. Seabin works very effectively 24/7 without harming sea animals. It does not cost much, nor is there a need for a lot of maintenance. Furthermore, there is the possibility to fit an oil/water separator to the system (Ceglinski, 2016).

Who wrote it?

Clara Brilmayer

Clara Brilmayer studies at the European Management School in Mainz.  


Shanice Mack
09-05-2017 20:47

I really like your blog, it was interesting to read it, because I am an environmental activist. I already heard about this Seabin and for me it is a big innovation, because it is made out of natural fiber. Like you mentioned, it is shocking how many plastic human use and they don`t even care about what happens to all the rubbish and which effects this brings with it. As an activist for PETA it is hard to see how sea turtles have straws in their nose or see birds dying through starving, just because they eat our waste which swims in the water and looks to them like fish. So, this is an innovation, which could save our planet and the environment. Because our nature has to be saved, so we can survive. I believe that through the facts you mentioned the possibility to fit an oil/water seperator one day comes true and through people like them, who had the idea, I also believe, that other innovations could stop environmental pollution and correct the already existing pollution and this even on an affordable way.

Annika Amann
08-05-2017 22:17

The fact that EVERY YEAR eight million tons of plastic are dumped into our seas is truly depressing! Nowadays, I think we are all aware of the negative effects and impacts which plastic waste causes in our oceans: It does not only threaten our environment and pollute our oceans - NO - it also gets in our food cycle and poses a threat to our own health. Therefore, it’s a matter of common knowledge that scientists are looking for solutions to combat these plastic-waste issues in our seas. I am all the more delighted that they’ve recently found a resolution so this could indeed become reality. Seabin - the "swimming rubish bin"- is an innovative and promising way to find a remedy for the current plastic-waste issues in the oceans. In addition to that, I really like the fact that it does not disturb the animals in the ocean at all - and that it is really cheap! This makes the innovation even more plausible und gives hope that it could help us to combat the plastic issue in the oceans in near future. However, it should be mentioned that Seabin does not solve plastic issue at all. Indeed, it cleans our oceans by fishing out the plastic. But what happens afterwards with the plastic waste? It does not disappear! Therefore I think we have to rethink our daily use of plastic. Nevertheless, Seabin is a great step in the right direction.

Maximilian Lenhardt
08-05-2017 16:15

I didn't even realise that eight million tons of plastic waste are dumped into the ocean every year. That is horrifying! And I totally agree that the "Seabin" is a good and eficient way of counteracting, even though I haven't heard of it until I read your blog. Does it only clean the surface or does it also suck in the rubbish underneath? And how far underneath the surface can it clean? But I agree with Carolin that there are small pieces of waste that may slip through the nets of the seabin. Maybe another can another solution can be found for this little issue or it can otherwise be further improved. Nevertheless it is a necessary solution with an enormous potential and I think people should be more aware of this issue of waste in the ocean and what it does to all the creatures living in it! Maybe people would stop throwing their trash into the seas.

Lea Rottmann
07-05-2017 20:21

What really stuck with me while reading about Seabin is the truly shocking fact that eight million tons of plastic waste is contributing to ocean pollution every year. This, of course, raises the question how to counteract this massive pollution we are causing. In my opinion, the Seabin project is a very innovative and great idea that could actually help towards protecting our oceans and its inhabitants! It not only cleans the oceans, but also effectively gathers plastic waste without needing much maintenance. In addition, it prevents marine life from eating toxic and harmful materials. With Seabin ocean pollution is reduced while simultaneously protecting the environment and marine wildlife. By counteracting pollution and endangering animals Seabin sounds like a very promising invention for a better and cleaner future. I believe it definitely is an idea worth spreading and raising awareness for.

Carolin Wolf
06-05-2017 16:55

Hey Clara, It’s kind of overwhelming when you realize what can be invented in this day and age. The Seabin, an invention what cannot be imagined without today. In my opinion, this is, unfortunately, necessary today. Due to the fact that there are tons of rubbish, fuels and oils in our oceans what almost can’t be removed carefully, this is a perfect solution for cleaning our mother earth’s seas. I’m surprised that such a small “seabin” can absorb that much rubbish. Animals, like turtles, dolphins and whales definitely profit from the cleaning seabin because littering in the ocean causes serious problems for the whole sea-life. There is one negative aspect it must be considered. Due to the fact that the seabin is also made for very small marine life such as fish eggs, plankton and krill, it is easy to pass through the seabin so they are not caught in the net of the bin, which is good. But at the same time, micro plastics can also pass through the seabin, which are later eaten by fish and other sea dwellers. In my opinion a very innovative invention which has potential to be used worldwide to put paid to tons of rubbish in our oceans.

Tabea Arnold
06-05-2017 00:03

There is a garbage patch the size of Texas floating around in the Pacific. Therefore, I believe, that the disposal of trash and specifically plastic is the most important factor when cleaning up our oceans. As you said, it takes 450 years to decompose a single plastic bottle, which is really shocking when you see all the plastic trash which is left everywhere in our environment. The idea of Seabin is quite interesting and a good innovation for trash disposal but the amount of trash in the oceans is so large that we’d need millions of Sebins to collect it all. There is a company in the Netherlands called TheOceanCleanUp, which is a lot further down the road towards achieving its goal of cleaning up the ocean.

Nicolas Eckhardt
05-05-2017 21:06

The important thing on being environmental friendly is also to be economically viable. And this happened with Seabin. With such a low price of the product, an easy setup and a cheap maintenance it is one of the few “real” problem solver. Other products who wanted to make the world, but especially the Ocean, cleaner where inefficient and uneconomically. The result was that no one accepted on investing a lot of money into this system. Seabin is affordable to private customers and not only to big companies. Regarding the Innovation level: Even if the technology how Seabin works is not new, it is a process which makes cleaning more effective and convenience. A realistic thing, which can and should be distributed around the Globe. Thank you for making statements and clarify about environmental care systems.

Moritz Wellershaus
05-05-2017 12:09

The automatic rubbish bin is a great help to our environment and the hopes lie in reducing ocean pollution and making the seas to a save place for ocean life again. It’s unbelievable how we are using plastic and how reckless we just throw it away. The average usage of a plastic bag is with 15 minutes terrifyingly short compared to the time of 450 years a plastic bottle needs to decompose. It is very important to know how plastic is destroying our natural environments Education and research by the Seabin Company raises awareness on the problem with plastic we humans are producing but it’s not reaching everybody. I, for example, have never heard about Seabin until now and I think the invention is a very important and necessary innovation we have to bring forward and establish everywhere. There will always be people who think that nature is none of their concerns. Despite the fact that we are killing water ecosystems, we are also harming ourselves. Fish, we eat, ate the plastic we dumped in the ocean and so the rubbish particles land in our digestive system and make us sick. I also like that Seabin is not only sucking in plastic 24/7 but also getting rid of petroleum and fuels, oils, detergents and chemicals, papers and other things produced by humans that do not belong in the ocean. I would definitely invest in this project.

Julia Herrhammer
04-05-2017 23:20

Hey Clara, I am really impressed of the topic you have chosen! Due to the fact that millions of marine creatures already had to die because of eating the trash which floats around the ocean is a pretty sad thing. Hence it is much more shocking that still a lot of companies all around the globe still do not care about that and continue polluting the water with their waste, oil, chemicals etc. although it also endangers the life of humankind, as you have already mentioned. As a matter of fact, one reason why most of the already existing methods like the ‘trash boats’ did not revolutionize the oceans cleansing, are the high prices those companies have to face. Thus, maybe the ‘cheap’ version of the Seabin might be THE solution and more companies could afford it, show responsibility for both marine organisms and for us who need the ocean to survive as it produces almost 75% of oxygen and keep the most eco systems alive.

Mona Anthes
03-05-2017 22:27

I think it is an awesome invention! As you described the Seabin in your article it sounds like this could be a global success. The advantages of costs and the effective functioning are an indicator for major possible expansion. Even though it actually is a simple technique the environmental effect is amazing. Since plastic pollution is more and more a problem and now that the awareness is high and people or institutions are looking for solutions the Seabin is the right invention to the right time. Investing in a Seabin is definitely an investment for the environment and will make the world bit by bit a little better. I really like that you chose an invention that is actually of importance and need! I would be interested in knowing how many of the Seabins are already in use worldwide.

Jil Becker
03-05-2017 17:40

It was interesting to read your blog because you addressed a serious problem which we need to face up. Thus, the fact that the ocean is filled with 8 million tonnes of rubbish, it is a matter of time till we need to find a solution for this current issue. The 'floating bin' that automatically sucks rubbish floating on the water into like a vacuum cleaner could tackle this problem which effects the whole world. But how often do these 'floating bins' need to be emptied? In my opinion the innovation of seabins can be seen as a revolution in ocean cleaning technology.



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