‘Seabin’ to begin collecting plastic in Howth harbour

19/08/2019 - 06:00

By Lorna Siggins

Howth Harbour. Picture: Steve Edge/ Geographie

The country’s latest floating plastic collector (or ‘seabin’) is to be installed in Howth harbour, on the north Dublin coastline, this week.

Marine biologist and Howth resident Rowan Byrne raised money through a crowd-funding campaign to purchase the device, which can collect up to 20 kilos of water-borne debris, including microplastics.

The ‘seabin’ is one of 79 installed around the world to a design by two Australian surfers, Pete Ceglinski and Andrew Turton.

Dun Laoghaire harbour’s seabin was installed last year, following a campaign led by young environmentalist Flossie Donnelly, and further devices are being purchased for the Down and Antrim coastlines in the north-east.

The ‘Seabin V5’ catches an average of 1.5kg of debris a day, although designed for up to 20kg, according to Mr Byrne.

He calculated an annual catch of up to 90,000 carrier bags, 11,900 one-litre plastic bottles or 50,000 500ml plastic bottles, 35,700 disposable coffee cups, 117,000 plastic utensils, along with plastic containers, oil, cigarette butts, micro-plastics, and microfibres.

“Ideally, we should turn off the ‘plastic tap,’ as production and over-consumption leads to more pollution,” he said. “Marinas and ports are the perfect place to start helping clean our oceans,” he added, due to the relatively controlled environment.”

Predominant wind and current directions in harbours make for more consistently polluted areas, where seabins can be installed to collect floating rubbish.

Sea-water is sucked in from the surface with a submersible pump, which is capable of displacing 25,000 litres per hour and this passes through a catch bag inside, Mr Byrne said.

“The water is then pumped back out, leaving the litter and debris trapped inside, until it can be disposed of properly,” he said.

Mr Byrne’s employer, Mott MacDonald, has supported its installation, along with Howth harbourmaster, Harold McLoughlin, and Howth Tidy Towns committee. He has also secured approval from the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine.

Howth harbour office will maintain the device, after it is switched on next Wednesday.

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