How does the Seabin work?

This question was asked by Jonah from West Sussex, UK.

Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski with one of their Seabins. (Image: Seabin Project).
Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski with one of their Seabins. (Image: Seabin Project).

Next time you’re wandering around a harbour or a marina you might spot what looks like a yellow bin floating in the water. Invented by two Australian surfers, Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski, the Seabin was designed to be small and unobtrusive but still effective in clearing rubbish from the sea.

It’s made from recycled plastic and contains a mesh bag made from natural fibres. The Seabin is attached to a pump on the side of the dock or marina, and this pump sucks water down through the mesh bag. Rubbish becomes caught in the bag, while the water flows through the pump and back into the sea. An oil/water separator can be installed on the pump, allowing the water to be cleaned as much as possible before it returns to the sea. When the mesh bag is full it’s simply replaced with another bag, while the first is emptied and the contents are disposed of properly. The now empty bag is cleaned and ready to be used again.

Andrew Turton checks a Seabin pump. It's estimated that powering the pumps for a Seabin to operate 24 hours a day could cost as little as €18 per month. (Image: Seabin Project).
Andrew Turton checks a Seabin pump. It’s estimated that powering the pump for a Seabin to operate 24 hours a day could cost as little as €18 per month. (Image: Seabin Project).

Andrew and Pete designed the Seabin so that it could remove as much rubbish as possible, while ensuring that a full mesh bag was a safe load for one person to manage. It functions 24 hours a day and so it is able to remove far more rubbish than a person with a scoop net. It also continues to work even if the mesh bag is full; the pump continues sucking the water down through the bag, so the rubbish is simply held near the bin until the bag is changed.

Although the Seabin can’t be used in open water because it requires a pump, it’s been shown to be remarkably effective in areas like marinas, docks and harbours, which are where a lot of the rubbish in the sea starts out. The project is largely crowdfunded, and you can find out more on the Seabin Project website.

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