Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The SeaBin Was Made To Clean The Sea From Trash – And Has Found One Of Its Biggest Supporters In Finland

Via Business Insider:

The first SeaBin in northern Europe was installed last Tuesday 9 May at a jetty on Uunisaari island, in Helsinki. Thus the Finnish capital became one of a select six ports where a SeaBin prototype is being tested by pilot partners before its official sales launch later this year. The Finnish technology company Wärtsilä, which has a global marine business unit, is backing the SeaBin in Finland with six to be put into the water altogether – and is supporting the project on a global level for three years.

SeaBin’s concept and development has a cosmopolitan background with three Spain-based Australian friends and their Spanish mate the main driving forces. Keen water sports fans, they were only too aware of the problem of floating litter, especially plastics, visually spoiling the sea surface while doing greater damage to the general marine environment and eventually to human beings.

It was Andrew Turton who came up with the idea of having a floating litter bin much like those on shore. He and his fellow co-founders have since invested around four years and lots of their own money in research and development, to finally get to the point where commercial sales are finally in sight.

The basic operating principle is simple enough - rubbish is sucked into the SeaBin and held by a mesh bag inside while the seawater is pumped out.

“It can clean up to ten kilos of rubbish before it needs to be emptied,” CEO Pete Ceglinksi claims, “Imagine the total for a year”.

Being an environmentally friendly bunch, the four co-founders did not want any harm to come to any aquatic inhabitants. However, it has been observed that the SeaBin’s action keeps fish away from its rim. Should any happen to fall in anyway, they will remain alive in the water and can be released when the bag is emptied.

In all, six SeaBin V5s will be procured by Wärtsilä for both Helsinki and Turku, where they will be installed at marinas and harbours with the results collated and analyzed after three months. Other sites chosen by the SeaBin team are in France, Montenegro, Bermuda, USA and Mallorca in Spain, where SeaBin is headquartered.

On his second visit to Finland, at the setting-up ceremony of the first SeaBin, CEO Pete Ceglinski said that "The installation of the V5 SeaBin here in Helsinki marks a real turning point in the fight against plastics and littering. Wärtsilä is the first big industry entity to partner with the SeaBin Project, which is a world first. We hope that this partnership with Wärtsilä inspires other big industry players to partner with smaller businesses that have big ideas for a cleaner environment".

“The floating rubbish bin has been developed by people who are passionate about solving problems. I hope that Helsinki strengthens its reputation as a place where creative people discover and experiment with solutions to the world's problems," said Helsinki's Deputy Mayor, Anni Sinnemäki, a representative of the Green Party.

With the planned commercial rollout of a SeaBin, hopefully in August, a peak will have been ascended by the Aussie-Spanish outfit. Ceglinski is the first to admit it has been exhausting, “We have been running on fumes finance-wise for a while”. Being young and optimistic has helped, along with the modern trend of crowdfunding to raise much-need cash for the idea.

The SeaBin team has high ethical standards too.

“We could have had them made in China, but SeaBins will be made in Europe. We could have sold the idea, but we think it is important that it’s not just a product – it’s part of a holistic approach that includes education, promotion, help and action,” explains Ceglinski, “Because SeaBin is just one part of the [marine environment] solution”.

Within the foreseeable future, the SeaBin will be powered in the by sustainable energy sources like solar, wave and wind, depending on the local situation. A herculean task lies ahead: over 8 million tons of plastics are dumped annually into the Earth’s oceans and can take up to 500 years to be broken down. Even then micro-plastic particles find their way into the food chain of animals and humans. But even some of these smallest particles will be caught in the SeaBins’ bags.

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