Seabin unit installed at Emeryville Marina to help fight water pollution

Published On December 13, 2017 | By Cindy Warner | Environment & Sustainability, News & Commentary

Our Emeryville Marina was the recipient of a new V5 Seabin earlier this month. The device rolled out as part of a pilot program and paid for by Safe Harbor Marinas who professionally manage our Marina and many others throughout the U.S..

The City held an event on December 1st to acknowledge its installation and educate the public on their efforts to keep Marinas and Yacht Harbors clean and safe.

“We’re proud to introduce Seabin as an innovative, cutting-edge technology that respects and protects the marine environment,” said Kate Pearson, Safe Harbor’s West Coast Regional Vice President. “It’s versatile, small in size, cost-effective and highly effective — everything our marinas and their boat owners have been asking for.”

Safe Harbor Marinas was selected as one of six partners around the world for Seabin’s pilot program that features their latest technology. The latest devices are priced at around $4,000 and weigh only two pounds.

“A simple solution to our oceans pollution”

The Seabin Project was developed as a startup venture by two life-long ocean sport enthusiasts from Australia. Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski were inspired by their shared passion for protecting the world’s oceans after years of witnessing floating debris in our bays and oceans.

The duo started an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in 2015 that netted them more than a quarter million dollars in capital. Ceglinski leveraged his background in product design and building racing yachts to engineer the early prototypes. They have refined their product over the last couple years to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of it.

“I was a product designer in another life and it was my job to make plastic products,” notes Ceglinski in the above video. “After awhile, I realized we didn’t need the stuff I was making and so I stopped.”

The two look at education as the long-term solution to the problem and recently employed Spanish researcher Sergio Ruiz-Halpern as their education director. Ceglinski continues to be heavily involved in the technical design and development of Seabin’s products.

The Seabin is not designed or suitable for open water bodies where boat traffic and large currents or waves may have an adverse effect on its overall performance. Seabin is working to develop a mobilized version similar to a Roomba vacuum cleaner that could be more suitable for this demand.


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How it works

The floating device operates like a floating vacuum that filters out floating debris and related pollutants. Water is filtered from the surface and passed through a catch bag inside the Seabin. Water is then pumped back into the water leaving litter and debris trapped in the catch bag.

The Seabin is powered by a small submersible water pump located underneath the device. The Emeryville unit is powered by electricity but may be run by cleaner power options such as solar, wind, wave or turbine depending on the location, current technology and services available. Current water-pump energy consumption is estimated to be only about $1 per day.

The Seabin is typically installed in specific “debris problem areas”. Emeryville’s unit was strategically installed behind the office on Powell which is adjacent to what is considered the most stagnant area of the Marina. The high concentration of liveaboards accounts for a large amount of ‘brown’ water from kitchen sinks and other plumbing. The unit runs continuously, quietly and is inconspicuously attached to one of the floating docks.

The device aims to collect mainly single-use plastics like water bottles, bags and condiment wrappers. Other commonly collected items include syringes, cigarette butts, bits of rubber/styrofoam and fishing line. The device can also capture fluids like fuel, oil and detergent. “A lot of what the Seabins collect are not directly from their immediate area but what is carried to the area by the wind and the current” said Shadows.

Marina maintenance crews empty the bin perhaps twice a day and the captured material is cataloged. Thus far, most of what has been captures has been organic matter.

More units planned

The latest device was piloted at Cabrillo Isle Marina in San Diego earlier this year and five more units have been installed throughout California including two at Ballena Bay in Alameda. The project also provides education to local students and environmental groups whenever a device is installed. “The groups could range in age from young children to early twenties,” Marina Harbormaster Michelle Shadows noted. “The Seabin Project has a beginning education program that will be structured to the groups we ultimately work with.”

Depending on marina size and number of vessels, it is recommended that mid-sized to larger marinas operate up to four Seabins. “We plan to add another unit on the north end of the property in 2018” Shadows says. It was recommended that an additional bin could be useful in a more remote area of the Marina near the Emeryville Crescent State Marine Reserve.

“Seabin’s daily cleaning regimen allows marina operators to examine the source of pollutants,” added Pearson. “Most importantly, Seabin’s operation does not adversely affect marine life in any way.”

Next year, the rollout is expected to include Safe Harbor’s network of more than 60 additional marinas located throughout the U.S..

For more information, visit SeabinProject.com.

About The Author

lives in Emeryville after finding a Bentley 38 sailboat at Emery Cove in 2014. She learned to sail at Cal Sailing and covered the America's Cup in SF. She grew up in the East Bay and finds the shoreline home. She has written on San Francisco Arts & Culture since January 2009, using her bicycle and public transportation to cover stories all over the SF Bay Area.

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