The Giant Sucking Sound

by Sandra Curtis, PPC’s Director of Innovative Projects

What’s that giant sucking sound emanating from Safe Harbor Marinas around the world?

CNN revived 1992 third party presidential candidate Ross Perot’s phrase, “the giant sucking sound?” in reference to the influx of college graduates returning to city centers and being a factor in the 2016 election.  But for this fortunate PPC staffer, that “giant sucking sound” signals one of the innovative arsenal of tools coming on the market to address plastic pollution in our nation’s waterways.  

I had the good fortune to attend a demonstration of Seabin’s clean up technology at the Emeryville marina, across the bay from San Francisco, on a recent sunny afternoon. Pete Ceglinski, Seabin’s Co-Founder and Managing Director was demonstrating how the Seabin operates.

Once he lifted the catch bag to dump it over, Pete sorted through the debris and pulled out a few pieces of plastic, included a plastic nurdle. The Seabin can capture debris down to 2mm in size.

The brainchild of Australian surfers, Pete and his Co-founder & Director, Andrew “Turtle” Turton, the company was initially crowdfunded. Affixed to a dock, the unit’s pump runs on shore power creating a flow of water which sucks all floating rubbish and debris into a fiber bag before pumping the water back out. It catches everything floating from plastic bottles to paper, oils, fuel, and detergent. The Seabin can capture an estimated 1.5 Kgs of floating debris per day (depending on weather and debris volumes) including micro plastics like that small nurdle.  

"It essentially works as a similar concept to a skimmer box from your pool filter," said Seabin’s spokesman Richard Talmage. "But it's designed on a scale to work and essentially attract all that rubbish within a location within a marine harbor."

Seabins are currently installed in the following global locations: 

  1. La Grande Motte, France

  2. Porto Montenegro, Montenegro

  3. Port Adriano, Spain 

  4. Wartsila Corporation - Helsinki, Finland

  5. Butterfield Group - Hamilton Princess Marina, Bermuda

  6. Safe Harbor Marinas - Cabrillo Isle Marina San Diego, USA

With 64 marinas owned and counting, the plan is to install Seabin’s technology in all of Safe Harbor’s locations across America and also to implement the educational program in all locations with local schools. 

The real solution:  Education

The Seabin Project has understood from the beginning that the Seabins are not the solution -education is. Consequently, they developed an open source education program based on interaction with and without the Seabin technology.

Seabin operates on a business motto of planned obsolescence - “To live in a world where we do not need Seabins.”

Working toward a world free of plastic pollution is something we ALL can support. 

For local coverage, see this story in the local Emeryville Eye.

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