This Trashcan Will Clean The Ocean, One Filthy Harbor At A Time

The Seabin is designed to be a passive tool to keep our shores clean. But will it live up to its crowdfunding hype?

The Seabin is a floating trash can that tirelessly sucks at the litter-strewn waters of our harbors and marinas, collecting detritus 24 hours a day. It still needs a trashperson to empty it, but it’s at least better than fishing beer cans out of oily seawater with a fishing net.


The design of the Seabin is dead simple. A (partially-recycled) plastic trashcan sits underwater at the end of a pole. The base of the can is connected to a pipe, which is connected to a pump up at the surface (mounted on a jetty, for example). And that’s it. The pump slowly attracts trash to the Seabin, where it is trapped until it’s emptied. Up in the pump section, the water passes through an oil trap, where the oil floats up, and only the water is returned to the marina. The pump is driven by a regular power supply, although “the Seabin can be powered with solar,” Peter Ceglinski, one of the two Australian surfers behind the device, told Co.Exist.

It’s so simple you could make it yourself. Why does it cost almost $4,000 for a plastic trashcan and an electric pump?

Ceglinksi admits the cost has been an issue: “There have been a lot of questions regarding the Seabins lately, about cost, and who’s going to maintain the Seabins, and also the effect of sea life.”

After citing some details on the next stage of the project now that the Indiegogo campaign has closed (successfully, with $267,767 raised), he said that yacht clubs and marinas–which presumably have some cash on hand–would be the main customers, and offered some justification for the price.

“Our aim is to be as sustainable and responsible as we can in making the Seabins,” says Ceglinski. “Seabins will be not be made in China, mass produced, and then shipped all over the world just to obtain a cheaper price. Instead, we aim to have Seabins produced on a variety of continents to help boost local economy and reduce shipping costs which in turn reduces the price and reduces the carbon foot print of the Seabins.”

This seems to contradict the what Ceglinski told me about the next stages for the project: “Second is to sign on with a manufacturer/distributor,” he wrote in an email. That doesn’t quite sound like “boosting local economy.” The team’s first priority? “Next is to send out all the rewards for the donations.”


Either way, the funding is closed now, and if you aren’t one of the lucky Indiegogo contributors waiting on your canvas prints and T-shirts ($1,000 pledge), or T-shirt alone ($100 pledge), then you can read over the archived Indiegogo page for a masterclass in environmental buzzwords.

About the author

Previously found writing at, Cult of Mac and Straight No filter.