In an effort to take a positive step in the fight against ocean pollution, a floating debris interception device called “Seabin” was installed in the waterway at the Cayman Islands Yacht Club in October.
“It’s like a floating garbage bin,” said Michael McWatt, managing director of Butterfield Bank. “It siphons water and collects litter and debris, preventing these items from making their way to the ocean.”
Butterfield Group is one of the global pilot partners for the Seabin project. It has also sponsored two Seabin units in Bermuda and one in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Other Seabins have been installed in marinas in the U.S., Finland, Spain, France and Montenegro.
The Seabin unit installed at the Cayman Islands Yacht Club, which is owned by Dart Real Estate and managed by the Dart company Active Capital Limited, is the first in the Caribbean.
Most of Butterfield Group’s principal operations are located on islands or on the ocean, McWatt said.
“We at Butterfield understand how closely tied the well-being of the economies and the people of our communities is to the ocean,” he said. “The fortunes of our tourism products and the quality of our daily life for all of us depends on the health of the waters that surround us.”
McWatt said there are an estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the world’s ocean and 8 million more metric tons of plastic are deposited in the ocean every year.
“Our oceans are in a crisis,” he said, adding that a “garbage truck” of additional trash is added to the ocean every minute of every day.
Although the Seabin project won’t solve the world’s ocean pollution problem, McWatt said it would help, and he noted that part of the initiative involves educational progammes in schools, which on Grand Cayman will include Cayman International School and Cayman Prep and High School.
Seabin co-founder and CEO Pete Ceglinski, who was at the media launch of the unit on Oct. 24, said the collection units use a water pump, which runs on electricity, to draw water into its surface opening. Various floating debris and oil are drawn into the Seabin and captured in a mesh catch bag made of recycled plastic. The water is then filtered back into the waterway through the mesh.
Ceglinski said bags can collect up to 20 kilograms — 44 pounds — of debris, which can include small particles of polystyrene and decaying plastic, as well as larger items. The Seabin unit on Grand Cayman will need to be checked regularly and emptied when need be by Cayman Islands Yacht Club staff.
The Seabin units are anchored underwater on a bracket that is attached to the dock. They are designed to be placed in marinas, rather than in open-water locations. The best placement for the units is where the prevailing winds and currents naturally push debris. Only one Seabin unit has been installed at the Cayman Islands Yacht Club, but larger marinas could have multiple units.
The pilot programme installations, which were all sponsored by various corporate entities, were a lead-up to an international sales launch.
“Sales start on Nov. 6,” said Ceglinski. “We’ll have 500 units on offer and we’ll test demand.”
Active Capital Chief Operating Officer Matthew Bishop said the company was thrilled to have a Seabin at the Cayman Islands Yacht Club.
“This is the first place in Cayman to have Seabin, but we really hope that we see it across our island and across the world in the future.”
The Seabin was installed in a temporary location for demonstration purposes in October, but will be find its permanent home at the Cayman Islands Yacht Club in November.