'From straws to sticky tape': Seabins helping to clean up Mandurah waterways and increase ocean pollution education

Two Seabins helping to clean Mandurah's waterways of plastic, oil and rubbish have been been hailed a success as they celebrate eight months since being switched on in the Marina.

The floating trash collectors were installed in two locations in the Dolphin Quay by the Peel Preservation Group (PPG) and have been working hard keeping the Mandurah Ocean Marina clean since February 8.

Among the firstto be commercially installed within Australia, the Seabins work like swimming pool skimmer boxes, pumping 25,000 litres of water through a mesh bag every hour.

They each have the capacity of collect half a tonne of waste annually - which is equal to 90,000 plastic bags, more than 35,000 disposable coffee cups or 16,500 plastic bottles.

We're well aware that these are small devices but they are doing their little bit but everything they catch would otherwise still be floating out there.

Project leader Stewart Godden

The bins are emptied daily, which is the joint responsibility of PPG and the City of Mandurah, by dedicated local volunteers.

The contents of the bins are then weighed and the rubbish is tallied and sent through to the Seabins project team. The data is then collated and used to form local and national statistics.

Project leader from the PPG Stewart Godden said the bins mostly collected micro plastics.

"It isn't always that big bang-for-buck stuff that you can see like bottles and cans - it is much more aimed at the micro plastics which is the stuff that makes it into the bottom of the food chain and, from there, into us," he said.

"Also we're finding some very fine material coming off the boats like fraying ropes and flakes of plastic off the storm covers they use.

"There are mats in the bottom of the Seabins to capture the trace amounts of diesel emissions that make their way out of the bilge into the water.

"We're well aware that these are small devices but they are doing their little bit but everything they catch would otherwise still be floating out there."

Volunteers and PPG committee members Rex Warne and Les Hodgsonare responsible for the daily checking and emptying of the bins as well as a thorough cleaning at least once a month.

Mr Warne said it varied every day how much and what kind of rubbish the Seabins collected.

"Weather conditions play a fair part and so does the time of year - depending on how many people are around and going to the cafes will have an effect on the rubbish collected," he said.

"There isn't always a lot but there is always something.

"Anything from straws, to sticky tape, all sorts of big and little pieces of plastic, degraded rope and cigarette butts.

"Mentos wrappers are very common, especially during summer, when people get them from the local cafes. People aren't chucking them in the water but they easily blow off the plate and nobody is going to dive in after it."

Mr Hodgsonsaid the Seabins also had other "handy uses".

"I came down once and there was the contents of someone's wallet nearby so I waited until it slowly came towards the bin and got sucked in," he said.

"I fished it out and took it to the cop shop because I'm sure it was valuable to whoever it belonged to."

Mr Godden said they hoped to continue using the Seabins as an environmental education tool.

"We've had various school groups come down and we're definitely keen for more to come down, perhaps as part of their marine science programs, to increase education and spread the word," he said.

"Plastic ocean pollution is a big issue and these act as education devices to raise public awareness.

"We can demonstrate what is making it into the water but the real aim of the game is to make sure it never ends up near the water in the first place so minimise your plastic and make sure, if you do have to use it, that it ends up in the right place."

Mr Godden said they hoped to install more Seabins around Mandurah but would require extra funding and resources to make it happen.

"They do draw in a reasonable amount of rubbish but they are also a reasonably expensive piece of kit," he said.

"Each one is worth $5500 to $6000 but by the time you connect it all up, it can easily add an extra $1000 to that.

"It comes down to money but also volunteers because the Seabins do have a certain amount of maintenance they require to function efficiently."

If you would like to get involved with the Peel Preservation Group, or would like to organise a school education lesson with the Seabins, call 9586 1310 or visit their Facebook page.