Hamilton

Check out the new floating garbage can sucking up trash in Hamilton Harbour

It's called a Seabin and in just 22 hours it swallowed a pair of plastic bottles, clumps of seaweed, a handful of cigarette butts and pieces of plastic.

In the past marina staff would have to pick each piece of trash out of the water by hand

Harbour West Marina manager Kelly Flood shows off the new Seabin that's sucking up trash in the harbour on September 6, 2019. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

In a quiet corner of the Harbour West Marina something new is silently, relentlessly sucking down trash and debris.

It's called a Seabin and in just 22 hours it swallowed a pair of plastic bottles, clumps of seaweed, a handful of cigarette butts and pieces of plastic.

Think of it as a sort of garbage can that does the collecting for you — with just a slight gurgle to give it away.

"It just keeps on pulling in stuff," explained marina manager Kelly Flood.

Litter has always been an issue for the marina, but Flood says recent high waters  have pulled all sorts of trash sitting on  shorelines and floating in area rivers into the lake system.

The Seabin uses an electric pump to pull in water and trash. The water is pumped out again, but the rubbish is captured in a catch bag that will be emptied by marina staff. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Not only does floating gunk look gross, the manager says it can present other problems, too.

"The plastic breaks down over time and you end up with these microplastics and the fish ingest them and it ends up in the whole cycle," said Flood.

"If you every go out onto the water after a rain storm it is insane how much debris is out on the lakes now."

The Seabin helps keep the water moving, too, making it harder for mats of blue green algae to build up.

Created by a pair of Australian surfers who got tired of seeing garbage every time they went into the ocean, Seabins move up and down with the water level and use an electric pump to filter water through a catch bag. The water is pumped back out and just the rubbish is left behind.

Only the grey and yellow lip of the bin sticks up above the surface, along with a bright, stainless steel handle.

After running for just 22 hours the Seabin managed to gather seaweed, plastic bottles, cigarette butts and bits of plastic. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

The bulk of the assembly, including the pump, are under water. Finding something low-profile and quiet were important considerations for the marina, which paid about $8,000 for the bin because it wanted to something that would help with cleanup without disrupting boaters.

And don't worry, its rim is too high for fish to get in, unless they jump.

The Seabin will run around the clock and be emptied by marina staff twice daily during their regularly scheduled dock checks.

It beats picking each piece of trash out of the water by hand, said Flood.

"We [would] use a shovel, a pitchfork and a rake," he added. This is a bit more high-tech.

Port plans to measure trash collected

Janet Knight, executive vice president of the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA) said she hopes the marina's Seabin is just the start.

"We're hoping to set a trend. You've got other marinas around here in Hamilton, so we'll start with this and hopefully it catches on."

Just the Seabin's yellow and black lip is visible from the surface. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

While the aim is to ultimately stop stuff from ending up in the water to begin with, HOPA's environmental manager Sara Yonson said she's planning to collect all of the garbage the Seabin sucks up over the next year and measure it.

"I'm impressed with the amount we've [already] managed to collect," she said. "It's great that we can go in with such an easy method to remove all that material."

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