An Australian-made innovation that collects tens of thousands of plastic bags, disposable cups and plastic bottles in waterways across 52 countries is coming home.
The Seabin Project, created by two Sunshine Coast residents and a Byron Bay local, is moving its manufacturing operations from France to Brisbane, with a view to supporting local jobs.
The innovation began with a crowd-funding campaign in January 2016 and has grown to a fleet of 860 units filtering plastics, straws, bags, micro-plastics and oils out of the water.
Seabin Project co-founder Pete Ceglinski, from Byron Bay, said the product was “a cross between a garbage bin and a pool skimmer”.
“Staff at marinas were scooping up litter with nets and chasing it around, so we gave them a semi-automated process which cut the time needed from two hours to five minutes and also collected micro-plastics and oil that the staff couldn’t get,” he said.
“The filter holds 20 kilograms, so we went to the marina and put the Seabin in the dirtiest corner because the wind, tide and current pushed the debris into that corner and mother nature pushed the litter into the bin.”
According to the Seabin Project’s estimations, each one of its floating Seabins collects 90,000 plastic bags, 35,700 disposable cups and 16,500 plastic bottles.
Overall, each Seabin collects 1.4 tonnes of litter per year.
Mr Ceglinski said the original base of operations was in France because two of the co-founders were working in Spain at the time.
“We started this while living in Spain because Andrew and I had a boat-building background and were working in the yacht-racing scene,” he said.
“That’s why we had the manufacturing happening in France because it was quite strategic and the marina industry is bigger in Europe than Australia.”
Seabin’s Australian locations include Mooloolaba and Noosa on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Brunswick Heads and multiple areas of Sydney Harbour in New South Wales, Melbourne’s Yarra River and waterways in Perth and South Australia.
The Seabin Project will partner with Brisbane-based Evolve Group for the manufacturing of their new Seabin 6.0.
“We are switching to injection moulding, introducing recycled fishing nets and reducing the amount of steel in Seabins by up to 70 per cent, lowering our carbon footprint,” Mr Ceglinski said.
“We also want to create a micro-economy. We don’t want to send everything offshore; we want to create local jobs in Brisbane.
“But the biggest thing we want to point out is that technology is not a solution, there shouldn’t be a need for Seabins.
“We have the Seabin Foundation which focuses on education, science, data monitoring and community engagement to monitor the health of our waterways and work with decision-makers.”
The project’s move to Brisbane should be completed by June this year and the founders hope to roll out the Seabin 6.0 by the end of the year.