Seabin using plastic to fight plastics

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micro plastics Seabin using plastic to fight plastics

15 to 51 billion micro plastic particles and 1.4 trillion micro fiber particles weighing from 93,000 to 236,000 tonnes, can be found in the marine environment and are found pretty much everywhere you look.

Micro plastics and micro fibers pose a real threat to marine ecosystems; they accumulate organic pollutants in far greater rates than other inorganic particles and they also pose a risk to animals by being mistaken for food.
Being the same size as prey for marine organisms, micro plastics can “travel” up the food chain with increasing bioaccumulation, eventually reaching our plates. Micro fibers and micro plastics are now considered one of the greatest threats to the marine environment, the problem is so acute that even the UN has set its sight on micro-plastics in the marine environment calling to action through GESAMP, a UNEP expert panel on the marine environment.

Micro plastics and micro fibers are terms used as a classification to categorize plastic pieces in the ocean. This category includes all plastic fragments measuring less than 5 mm in diameter.

seabin fights plastic with plastics

A selection of micro plastics that the Sebins catch on a daily basis.

The Seabin technology is very simple, it is able to catch all surrounding debris, including micro plastics and micro fibers with a small adaptation to the standard Seabin filter. Seabin Project has conducted a scientific study in order to understand to which extent the Seabins could be used as a solution to collect micro plastics and as a scientific tool for monitoring the Seabins capturing debris.

This study has enabled us to establish that the Seabin alone was efficiently able to remove a substantial fraction of the micro plastics found in the water (between 2 and 5 mm). Removing the larger micro plastic particles prevent them from splitting and creating more micro plastics in the water body.

The study also gave us the opportunity to see if it could be used as a scientific monitoring tool on micro plastics and micro fiber concentration in the water. We compared a standard micro plastic sampling method commonly used by scientists (a Manta trawl, a specific net dragged behind a boat) with another method consisting of a small modification to the standard Seabin filter.

micro plastics seabin

Method 1 – Seabin

mantra trawl

Method 2 -Mantra trawl

We found that the characteristics of the samples in the size distribution, type, shape and color using both methods were virtually the same, both methods are near identical and effective in sampling micro plastics.

Consequently, with a small adaptation to the standard Seabin filter, scientists and governments around the world could use them to monitor the micro plastic and micro fiber content in the water.

Seabin monitoring and sampling ends up behind cheaper and more time efficient than using the standard method, and runs 24h/7 enabling more consistent data over extended periods of time.

Information derived from previous findings we realized that with some extensive R&D we will be able to adapt the filter in the catch-bag to remove a higher number of micro plastics from the ocean.

Using a material similar to the one used in our comparison with the scientific methods, we are currently engineering the catch bag and doing preliminary tests so that in the near future we will be able to remove smaller particles than what we are currently capable of which is particles 2mm in size and greater.

micro plastics pieces

Consideration will be taken into account for micro organisms in the Seabin locations, due to the high volume of pollution and the locations of the Seabins within marinas, the sea life is minimal.

Through our activities, the Seabin Project joins current global efforts to reduce micro plastic and micro fiber loads in the ocean through multiple approaches

  • By investing in improvements of the Seabin technology for improved interception of macro plastics, oil and fuel pollutants, micro plastic and micro fiber particles.
  • By intercepting micro plastic and micro fiber particles before the debris enters the oceans.
  • By investing in education and scientific initiatives, which is the real solution to reducing the amount of mismanaged waste entering our oceans and then turning into ocean plastics.
  • By investing in future Seabin technology so that we may get off the dock and into open ocean.
    For cleaner oceans.