Two Surfers Tidy­ing Up Our Oceans

Af­ter two surfers ques­tioned the ocean pol­lu­tion around them, they came up with an in­no­va­tive idea

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Front Page - LOUISE WATER­SON

Rub­bish bins are a com­mon sight at the beach and along the shores of wa­ter­ways – but so much garbage still ends up in the wa­ter. Back in 2010, An­drew Tur­ton, a boat­builder orig­i­nally from Perth, Aus­tralia, was sail­ing and trav­el­ling around the world when he was both­ered by a sim­ple question: “If we can have rub­bish bins on land, then why not have them in the wa­ter?” When he shared this co­nun­drum with his friend Pete Ceglin­ski some three years later, the pair de­cided it was time to ad­dress the prob­lem head on.

Both life-long surfers, over the years they had no­ticed an alarm­ing in­crease in the amount of man-made garbage float­ing in the break­ers. The key, they agreed, would be re­duc­ing the flow of garbage be­fore it reached the oceans, where it is caus­ing enor­mous dam­age to sea life and ma­rine ecosys­tems.

Their so­lu­tion: build a bin that could sit up­stream in calmer wa­ter­ways, such as rivers, mari­nas and ports, and col­lect the plas­tic de­bris and gen­eral pol­lu­tants be­fore it flowed into the ocean. They then set about de­vel­op­ing the Se­abin.

Much like any pub­lic rub­bish bin, the Se­abin is de­signed to be reg­u­larly emp­tied. It’s able to catch an es­ti­mated 1.5 kg of float­ing de­bris each day (de­pend­ing on weather and de­bris vol­umes), and this in­cludes tiny mi­croplas­tics that are par­tic­u­larly harm­ful to sea life. The orig­i­nal idea was to de­sign a suc­tion-based float­able bin that could col­lect the usual food wrap­pers, plas­tic bot­tles as well as pol­lu­tants such as oil, fuel and de­ter­gents.

With a back­ground in prod­uct de­sign and ship­build­ing, Tur­ton based the Se­abin on pool fil­tra­tion and pump sys­tems com­mon in back­yard

pools. De­signed for calm wa­ters, the Se­abin sucks the wa­ter and de­bris from the sur­face and passes it through a catch bag in­side. It runs off a sub­mersible wa­ter pump ca­pa­ble of dis­plac­ing 25,000 litres per hour, and is pow­ered by a 110/220 V out­let. The wa­ter is then pumped back into the ma­rina leav­ing de­bris trapped in a catch net.

With the help of fund­ing from a Perth-based ma­rine en­gi­neer­ing firm, the pair spent four years re­fin­ing their de­sign be­fore seek­ing pub­lic sup­port via the crowd­fund­ing site Indiegogo in 2015. The re­sponse was in­stant, with the Se­abin idea re­ceiv­ing wide­spread sup­port once news of it reached ocean lovers around the world. A sin­gle Se­abin can col­lect 90,000 plas­tic bags, 11,900 plas­tic bot­tles and 35,700 dis­pos­able cof­fee cups over a year. Dur­ing tri­als in Eu­rope, the most com­mon item col­lected was cig­a­rette butts.

To­day, the Se­abin is in com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion and be­ing sold in 32 mar­kets around the world.

Se­abin in­ven­tors An­drew Tur­ton (right) and Pete Ceglin­ski

The float­ing bin au­to­mat­i­cally sucks rub­bish into a mesh catch net

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