I am currently enjoying my holidays in Estepona in the South of Spain. Besides an appealing beach and promenade, this picturesque town on the Mediterranean coast is home to a sports and fishing port. It all looks Instagram-proof, but upon closer inspection, one cannot neglect the amounts of trash floating in the harbor. At the pier, a seagull on the hunt for food tries to crack open a beer can washed ashore. Spots of oil form a thin layer on the water here and there. Not a pretty sight.

Estepona is not alone, around the world marinas have to deal with litter for which humans are to blame. They are the symptom of a much larger problem that most of us never get to see: the pollution of our planet’s oceans on a massive scale. Luckily, two Australian surfers have come to rescue. The result is the Seabin, an invention that holds the middle between a waste bin and vacuum cleaner. But for the oceans, mind you.

The founders of Seabin, with the device before it is installed in the water (photo: Seabin project)

On sale since the summer of 2017, the Seabin is the result of years of development and testing. The device is designed to be installed in the water of marinas, yacht clubs, ports or any water body with a calm environment and electricity available. A small submersible pump creates a water flow into the Seabin’s catch bag. Litter and oil are ‘sucked in’ and collected. This ocean vacuum cleaner catches on average 1.5 kilograms of rubbish a day, good for half a ton every year. Since the Seabins are installed on the floating docks of a marina, it is easy to check and empty the catch bag. I know you’re worried about the fish, but the Seabin team claims to never have found any in the bin during four years of piloting their product.

The Seabin in action (photo: Seabin project)

The Seabin project goes further than cleaning up other people’s mess. Via their Global Ambassador Program, partnering harbors use Seabin’s educational material to raise awareness about the consequences of mankind’s addiction to plastic packaging. Eventually, part of the collected plastic waste it to be reused to produce more Seabins. The team is also contributing to marine research via data collection.

It looks like the two Aussies hit the nail on its head with their technology. And I don’t just say that because I happen to love surfing and Australia. The guys raised more than 260 thousand USD on the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform in 2016, and are collaborating with a couple of yacht clubs and marina’s to showcase their solution. And let’s face it, two surfers quitting their day jobs to preserve that part of nature they feel deeply connected to, who doesn’t love such a story? When I’ll take a dip in the sea after finishing this article, I know it’s a bit cleaner than before. That’s worth something.

Check out the Seabin’s project video here.

An estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean every year (photo; Seabin project)