University takes part in 'Sea Bin' trial to monitor plastic waste

The University of Plymouth is taking part in the trial of a ‘Sea Bin’ as part of the city’s ongoing commitment to tackling plastic pollution.

In a project led by Plymouth City Council, the device has been installed at the Queen Anne’s Battery Marina, close to the University’s own Marine Station.

Researchers and students will be involved in the trial, monitoring collections of plastic and other waste to determine how beneficial it could be in Plymouth.

A Sea Bin is a floating rubbish bin that can capture annually 90,000 plastic bags, 35,700 disposable cups or 16,500 plastic bottles.

It is one of the latest projects to be developed to support the Plymouth Britain’s Ocean City Plan for Plastics, led by the city’s Plastics Taskforce, of which the University is a member.

Professor Richard Thompson OBE, Head of the International Marine Litter Research Unit, said:

“The key solution is, of course, to stop allowing plastic waste to enter the sea in the first place. However, steps to remove litter effectively from the ocean are important too, and we are collaborating in the project to help evaluate the efficiency of this device.”

Student Liam Gibson who will be monitoring the Sea Bin over the next few weeks, and added:

"Innovative developments designed to protect and enhance the environment are always welcome, the Sea Bin is no exception. Given the nature of plastics in the marine environment, efforts to remove them are imperative. I'm excited to see what the Sea Bin will bring to Queen Anne's Battery and Plymouth."

Cllr Sue Dann, Chris Price, Liam Gibson and Fiona Crouch at the launch of the Sea Bin trial

Councillor Sue Dann, Cabinet Member for Environment and Street Scene for Plymouth City Council, said:

“This is an exciting new project for Plymouth and we are happy to be working with local partners to tackle plastic pollution and to help protect our local marine life. Cleaning up and improving the quality of our oceans is especially important to us in Plymouth as we are aiming to be the UK’s first National Marine Park. This is one of the first few Sea Bins in the UK, so although others are in the pipeline, this really does mean Plymouth is at the forefront of using this innovative technology in the UK. Marinas and ports are ‘hots spots’ for litter that enter the system via users on the water, surrounding waterfront areas and by drifting in from surrounding seas driven by tides, currents and wave action. The installation of a Sea Bin has the potential to remove marine litter from a marina at a centralised point. If marine litter such as plastics are not removed then they will eventually sink and very slowly breakdown into microplastics creating further environmental issues.”

Chris Price, manager, Queen Anne’s Battery, said:

“We’re delighted to install a Sea Bin at Queen Anne’s Battery. Currently our staff remove any debris out of the marina with a net, making sure that we do our part in keeping the sea clean, and obviously our berth holders and visitors happy. We’re going to locate the Sea Bin behind the pontoons. We’ll be there giving it a daily clean-out to make sure that any plastic, bottles, and bags etc are kept out of our beautiful waters. All of us at MDL are really excited about any innovation which helps the environment, we’re delighted that QAB has been chosen for this project.”

The Sea Bin trial will report back at the end of September with some initial results.

Leading the charge against plastic pollution

The University is at the forefront of international research into the causes and impacts of marine litter and is now taking action to reduce the plastic waste generated on its campuses

Read more about our Plan for Plastics

International Marine Litter Research Unit

Marine litter is a global environmental problem with items of debris now contaminating habitats from the poles to the equator, from the sea surface to the deep sea.

Furthering our understanding of litter on the environment and defining solutions

Find out more about the International Marine Litter Research Unit