By Trey Sherard, Anacostia Riverkeeper
Seabins are small trash traps designed especially for marinas by The Seabin Project, an Australian organization originally founded to reduce trash in Sydney. They were quickly adopted across Australia, Europe, and elsewhere in the past three years, and were just starting to pop up around the United States when Anacostia Riverkeeper won a 2021 grant from the District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) with funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to pilot Seabins in the District.
Seabins are particularly well suited to grabbing the many pieces of trash that persist in the relatively tight spaces between docks and bulkheads. They bolt directly on to floating docks and have a capture area about the size of a five-gallon bucket. Add some bracketing structure and a pump at the bottom, and you’ve got the idea. The pump draws water and trash into the basketed capture area where the trash gets stuck and the water passes down and back out to the river cleaner than it came in. The Seabins are currently installed at James Creek Marina and Yards Marina. The best place to view them is from the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail along Yards Marina where they’re closest to shore. If you’d like to learn more about them, feel free to reach out to us via email@example.com.
This is a pilot project and we’ve discovered plenty of hurdles along the way, but the Seabins are successfully reducing trash in the Anacostia River. While they will capture the usual suspects like plastic bottles that constitute 60% of the weight of all the trash on the river and its shorelines, the Seabins are especially useful for capturing the tiny pieces of trash that slip past larger trash traps in the area like Bandalong Litter Traps, and that evade most volunteers at cleanups. This means they don’t collect a lot of trash as measured in pounds, but they do collect hundreds of pieces of trash per Seabin, per cleanout. It also suggests they may be useful for studying microplastics in the Anacostia River and in fact, Seabin Project is working on research protocols that we may able to implement with the Seabins here on the Anacostia River.
The real solution, of course, is to stop using so much plastic, and to make sure that what plastic we have to use is able to be recycled more effectively than it is now. One big step in that direction will be for the District to adopt a beverage container deposit law. In the meantime, Anacostia Riverkeeper will keep running the Seabins pilot, maintaining the Bandalong Litter Traps, and organizing cleanups.
If you’d like to join us for a cleanup, the next one will be January 16th, 2023, when Anacostia Riverkeeper and Pope Branch Park Restoration Alliance host the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Clean Waterways Cleanup from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at Pope Branch Park. Please sign up here if you’ll be joining us: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/clean-waterways-cleanup-mlk-day-of-service-2023-tickets-470680537157. Anacostia Riverkeeper’s office has just moved to Barracks Row for most of 2023, and our mailing address is now 45 L St SW, PO Box #70565, Washington DC, 20024. The microplastics and beverage container deposit law reports mentioned above can be found at https://www.anacostiariverkeeper.org/resource-library/publications/.