Seabins, which are electrically powered bins that collect trash in marine areas such as ports and marinas, are an invention of two former boat builders, Pete Ceglinksi and Andrew Turton. The company, the Seabin Project, and its product, the seabin, enjoyed massive publicity in 2016, which led to an extremely successful investment round that raised $1.49 million as of March 16, 2020. Whilst seabins remove plastic and other materials out of nature, it does not prevent the use of plastic or have a clear direction for where the plastic it collects will go. There are many areas that the Seabin Project can improve on, especially with regards to contributing to the circular economy. However, its product ensures that marine life near ports are not harmed by the waste that humans throw away, and prevents the spread of microplastics which eventually enter into our bodies as well.
The seabin is made of HDPE, a form of recycled plastic, and a catch bag that is also made of recycled plastic. According to its website, the Seabin Project opted for plastic instead of organic materials because of its longer lifespan and better performance. While the use of plastic instead of organic materials is disappointing, the fact that using plastic can lead to less waste from replacing catch bags less often means that in the end, it may have a net positive effect. The seabin also runs on electricity, which as of now may be sourced renewably, but may also be sourced from fossil fuels.
As of March 2016, all seabins are produced and distributed by Poralu Marine, a marina building company based in France. There aren’t many details about how Poralu Marine produces the seabins, but on its website the company touts that it uses environmentally friendly materials in most of its products, including the seabin. Because Poralu Marine is a global distributor, it relies on international transportation to sell its goods worldwide. Since Poralu Marine has only two production factories, one in France and Canada respectively, whatever products it sells in countries other than France and Canada must be transported by plane or container ship, which both use fossil fuels.
In addition to being made out of recycled materials, the seabin’s other strong suit when it comes to sustainability is its story. The two founders of the Seabin Project started the company after quitting their jobs because of their love of the ocean and desire to do good. The fact that this company is mission driven and started out as a passion project means that it is more than just a way for the founders to make money. Because the Seabin Project’s sole product cleans up the world’s oceans, the more it expands, the more the environment benefits. Clearly many people see the value of this product, as most of Seabin Project’s investment was crowdfunded, which gives further reason for this company to grow. Moving forward, the Seabin Project would do well to find innovative ways to recycle or reuse the trash that it collects from its seabins, so that instead of just taking trash out of the ocean, it redirects it to more productive uses.