The first Seabin marine rubbish bin in Northern Europe has been launched and placed in test use in Uunisaari, off the coast of the Kaivopuisto district of Helsinki, Finland. Another floating rubbish bin will be installed in Helsinki at the turn of June

Water is sucked in from the surface and passes through the catch bag inside the Seabin

Water is sucked in from the surface and passes through the catch bag inside the Seabin

Finland-headquartered technology group Wärtsilä will be operating as the Seabin Project's global pilot partner for the next three years. The other six pilot partners are La Grande Motte in Southern France, Porto Montenegro in Montenegro, Port Adriano in Mallorca (Spain), Butterfield in Bermuda, and Safe Harbor Marinas in the United States.

The Seabin Project provides solutions to the problem of littering in seas around the world. The project is approaching the challenge from several angles, with special focuses on education, research and technology.

The Seabin is a floating rubbish bin that is located in the water at marinas, docks, yacht clubs and commercial ports, where it collects all floating rubbish. Water is sucked in from the surface and passes through the catch bag inside the Seabin. The water is then pumped back into the marina leaving litter and debris trapped in the catch bag to be disposed of properly. The Seabin also has the potential to collect some of the oils and pollutants floating on the water surface. The Seabin Project's team currently uses 12-volt submersible water pumps that can utilise alternative and clean energy sources. These may include solar, wave or wind power, depending on the location and available technology.

Seabin Project launched its new V5 Hybrid model at the end of April. It then began installing prototypes at its pilot partners' sites. For a three-month trial period, the pilot partners will provide information about how the floating rubbish bins have functioned. Seabins are expected to go on commercial sale in August.

For the duration of the partnership programme, Wärtsilä is donating floating rubbish bins to the City of Helsinki and the Port of Helsinki, which will be responsible for operating and maintaining the floating bins in Helsinki. Wärtsilä is also negotiating the donation of floating rubbish bins for the Turku guest harbour on the Aurajoki river and for the city of Vaasa.

Wärtsilä is also continuing its long-term collaboration with the Keep the Archipelago Tidy Association, working towards a clean marine environment. In 2017, the collaboration and support will be weighted towards the beach clean-up work promoted by the Clean Beach campaign. Wärtsilä has supported the Keep the Archipelago Tidy Association's operations and coastal cleanliness since 2009.

"Wärtsilä is taking responsibility for the future of the marine environment, and we are honoured to be involved in the Seabin project. As one of the leading solution providers in the marine industry, we are constantly developing new environmental technology, such as using plastics as fuel, which we are currently testing. However, the most important thing to remember is that every one of us can do our bit for the cleanliness of the marine environment," says Atte Palomäki, Executive Vice President, Communications & Branding and member of the Board of Management at Wärtsilä.

Wärtsilä is a member of the Sustainable Shipping Initiative and is a signatory to the UN's Global Compact initiative. The company is transforming traditional shipping and energy markets by developing sustainable and renewable solutions that improve the environmental footprint of maritime transport and energy generation.

Seabin Project's Pete Ceglinski said: "The installation of the V5 Seabin here in Helsinki marks a real turning point in the fight against plastics and littering. Wärtsilä is the first big industry entity to partner with the Seabin Project, which is a world first. We hope that this partnership with Wärtsilä inspires other big industry players to partner with smaller businesses that have big ideas for a cleaner environment."

"The cities of Helsinki and Turku together initiated the Baltic Sea Challenge ten years ago. The floating rubbish bin will raise awareness of plastic littering in the sea - one of the world's greatest environmental problems. Plastic rubbish breaks down into tiny microplastic particles that can contaminate fish and then end up being eaten by people. Cleantech and the environmental business are key sectors for the City of Helsinki. The floating rubbish bin has been developed by people who are passionate about solving problems. I hope that Helsinki strengthens its reputation as a place where creative people discover and experiment with solutions to the world's problems," says Helsinki's Deputy Mayor, Anni Sinnemäki.

Kari Noroviita, Director of Passenger Harbours at the Port of Helsinki, says: "It is natural for the Port of Helsinki to participate in the floating rubbish bin project. It provides citizens with a tangible way of assessing the state of our shared environment and raises awareness of everyone's own actions. At the Port of Helsinki, we are committed to operating for the good of the Baltic Sea. Harbour operations are subject to environmental permits that regulate our professional activities, but the sea and the water - they belong to all of us."

Plastic has an astonishingly large impact on the environment and ecosystems. It is estimated that by 2025, the oceans will contain one ton of plastic for every three tons of fish. It is also estimated that by 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic by weight than fish (source: Ellen Macarthur Foundation, 2016). In ten years, more plastic has been produced in the world than in the entire 20th century. Plastic causes more than USD 13 billion of damage to marine ecosystems every year. Animals swallow our waste and become entangled in it. Local marine environments suffer, which decreases fish and shellfish stocks. Shipping and tourism may suffer, as people are exposed to harmful impurities when they inadvertently eat polluted seafood.

By Jake Frith