Author: Laura Chalk
Every year, millions of tonnes of plastic clog the earth’s oceans. Not only does this plastic kill marine life, it breaks down into minute particles that infiltrate the food chain of plankton, whales, and all the species in between.
Appalled at this massive problem, Australian surfer Pete Ceglinski decided to tackle the problem head on by designing a bin. Not just any bin though - one that bobs in the ocean like a buoy, sucking surrounding rubbish in, filtering the water through a gauze where it is then released back into the ocean. The rubbish is trapped in the bin where it can be collected and disposed of on shore.
The process from dream to reality has been one of fits and starts. Ceglinski didn’t want to accept donations from companies who contributed to the problem of plastic on one hand, while assuaging their guilt by funding an eco-start up on the other. So as an alternative, he started a crowdfunding campaign.
Initially the interest and donations were scant. Gradually though, momentum built and soon the responses grew to hundreds, and then thousands. Ceglinski replied to every offer with a personal text message of thanks.
Seabin also piqued the interest of marinas and ports around the world to pilot the system in their water ways once it has been manufactured. Ceglinski works hard to honour their support as he continues to make the contraption in his workshop.
The problem of plastic in our oceans is a startling one, with predictions* (source) that the oceans could soon hold a kilo of plastic for every three kilos of fish. Awareness and conversation around the subject is building, however, and with that awareness, the inspiration for innovative and creative solutions, such as the Seabin.
Many groups and individuals around the planet seek to collect rubbish from waterways and beaches, with clean-up groups, small and larger scale initiatives using word of mouth, hands on approaches, as well as leveraging social media, apps and other technologies to remedy the growing problem.
What is needed in addition to these initiatives is to stem the flow of plastic reaching the ocean, and landfill, in general. A combined effort from plastic manufacturers, retailers and consumers is nothing short of what’s necessary to curb this murky trend.
Ceglinski’s hope for the Seabin is that it will not only work towards cleaning waterways, but will increase this process of awareness, conversation and action around this growing and potentially devastating problem. For actions that you can take right away, see below.
• Pick up rubbish when you see it and dispose of it correctly – recycling where possible. For information on what can be recycled, visit: recyclingnearyou.com.au.
• Join a beach or river care movement like Take3 or ask your local council or Surf Life Saving Club if there are groups who meet together to collect waste around your local waterways.
• Start a group of your own. As we’ve featured in a previous edition of PEN, we have the likes of Afroz Shah to inspire us, with his massive beach clean-up in India.