Two Surfers Tidying Up Our Oceans
After two surfers questioned the ocean pollution around them, they came up with an innovative idea
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