Innovative Seabin helps clean up Ipswich Waterfront

The Seabin at Ipswich Waterfront Picture: NEIL PERRY

The Seabin at Ipswich Waterfront Picture: NEIL PERRY - Credit: NEIL PERRY

Is it a boat? Is it a float? No, it’s a Seabin and it is helping reduce plastic pollution at Ipswich Waterfront.

Debris collected by Seabin Picture: George Seinet

Debris collected by Seabin Picture: George Seinet - Credit: Archant

Visitors to Ipswich’s Waterfront might just notice a floating object attached to one of the wooden pontoons.

It may not look like much but this is a Seabin, a simple device that is helping fight the good fight in the war against discarded plastics and other litter.

Installed by Associated British Ports (ABP) Ipswich, the company which runs Ipswich’s wet dock area, a Seabin is a static, floating rubbish bin that moves up and down, powered by a submersible electric pump. Water is sucked in from the surface and passes through a catch bag inside the container which traps any debris that comes with it.

It’s a simple device but effective - collecting up to a full black bin bag of rubbish from the water each day including cigarette butts, crisp wrappers and pieces of polystyrene takeaway containers.

Trial

ABP are among the first companies in the UK to install the contraption, which has been on a trial in Ipswich for five months. It has proved a success and now the business is considering installing more in Ipswich, as well placing Seabins across the other 21 ports and marinas it operates throughout the UK.

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“Its doing really well - it’s collecting a lot of debris out of the water,” said George Seinet, environment co-ordinator at ABP.

George Seinet - environmental coordinator for Associated British Ports (ABP) Picture: NEIL PERRY

George Seinet - environmental coordinator for Associated British Ports (ABP) Picture: NEIL PERRY - Credit: NEIL PERRY

“We wanted to trial it here at Ipswich as it has a large wet dock area - I’m hoping each port will choose how many they need for their area - it depends on how much rubbish they have and the time they have to empty the Seabins.”

A key reason the Seabin works well for ABP is that once it has been installed, it requires very little maintenance. It needs to be emptied daily and the rubbish that is collected disposed of, while once a month the bin has to be taken out of the water and cleaned to ensure barnacles and other encrusters don’t build up on the outside and make it too heavy to manoeuvre. The rest of the time it sits there quietly, working away.

Placement is also crucial- the Seabin is only effective if it is sited at locations where the prevailing wind pushes the water and rubbish towards it. George believes the addition of three more Seabins, placed at strategic locations around Ipswich’s wet dock area, would be the ideal solution.

George Seinet - environmental coordinator for Associated British Ports (ABP) Picture: NEIL PERRY

George Seinet - environmental coordinator for Associated British Ports (ABP) Picture: NEIL PERRY - Credit: NEIL PERRY

Good neighbour

At 3,000 Euros each, the Seabins are not an insignificant investment in the war against plastics but it’s part of a larger drive by ABP Ipswich to do their bit.

The company also organises regular ‘Tidy Friday’ litter picks and beach cleans where staff and members of the public are invited to get involved, and has recently invested significantly in solar panels and energy efficient LED lighting for its warehouses and port front.

Port manager Paul Ager said: “Some of these are not core to the business but that’s not the point. It’s about being a good neighbour.”

George Seinet - environmental coordinator for Associated British Ports (ABP) Picture: NEIL PERRY

George Seinet - environmental coordinator for Associated British Ports (ABP) Picture: NEIL PERRY - Credit: NEIL PERRY