High-tech garbage bin tackles Hamilton harbour’s litter problem

Somewhere on Hamilton’s Harbour West Marina, a quiet, unassuming, high-tech contraption works tirelessly to clean the waters.

This eco-friendly gadget is called a Seabin. It is essentially a waterborne garbage bin that collects waste on its own. The brainchild of Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski, Seabins were created when the two water lovers realized the effect of human activity on the ocean and decided to do something about it.

Seabins work by pumping water into the device, where they can filter and intercept floating debris, macroplastics, and microplastics. They then pump out the water and retain the waste. The bulk of the Seabin is underwater; only the bin’s handle and lip stick up above the surface. Its low profile and lack of noisiness were important factors for the marina, as they wanted something that would help with cleanup without disrupting boaters.

The Seabin runs 24/7 and is cleared twice a day by marina staff, who would otherwise have to clean the water manually with a shovel, a pitchfork, and a rake.

Litter has always been an issue for Harbour West Marina, but recent increases in Lake Ontario’s water level have exacerbated the problem. Trash infested waterbodies are obviously unappealing, but they can also be environmentally problematic. Plastic waste, for instance, breaks down into microplastics over time and ends up being ingested by fish which permeates the whole ecosystem.

The Seabin is also useful because it keeps water moving, thus discouraging the buildup of toxic blue-green algae, which can develop on still water and cause illness in humans and pets. Blue-green algae buildup has historically been an issue the marina has needed to be cognizant of, so the Seabin helps them tackle multiple problems at once.

The early returns on the Seabin have been excellent according to Marina manager Kelly Flood. In fact, the Seabin has made such a good impression that the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authorita (HOPA) now plans to collect and measure the garbage the Seabin picks up so that they can assess it for their own purposes.

They are hoping that other marinas soon adopt the Seabin trend for themselves.

Header photo courtesy of @chat_photography

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