Every now and then you hear of an idea that’s so jaw-droppingly simple and yet so effective that it makes you shake your head and wonder, ‘why not me’? Such is the case with the Seabin project, an automated marina rubbish bin that was designed to help remove plastic and other unsightly debris from the water.
Seabin is the brainchild of Pete Ceglinski (37) and Andrew “Turtle” Turton (41), two Mallorca-based Australian sailors and boatbuilders with a passion for sailing and clean water, and the two are rapidly turning their brilliant idea into the “Hoover of marinas” thanks to some help from social media and the world’s collective conscience about fixing our plastic-choked waters.
Some background. Pete and Andrew have both been involved in Grand Prix sailing for years and have worked as boatbuilders and shore crew for the Volvo Ocean Race, the America’s Cup and the TP52 racing circuit, but both sailors were also keen to give something back to the environment and to the ocean.
Andrew came up with the basic concept and a few prototypes, and Pete brought in his background as a product designer, and the two started innovating. Eventually, they produced a working device built out of stainless steel, (the final product will be rotomolded polyethylene using 80-100% recycled materials), and it was time to take their bold idea to the public.
Given the high costs of ramping up tooling and production on a new product, Ceglinski and Turton turned to crowd-funding for their start-up nut, first with Kickstarter and then Indiegogo. While interest was fairly robust, it wasn’t until Seabin’s slick product video hit the French website ideesdebiz.fr that things became viral.
“Overnight, my phone just went bezerk,” said Ceglinski in a Sail-World.com interview. “My phone wouldn’t stop vibrating and buzzing from all the notifications of donations, because every time a person donates, I get an email…’
“Right now we have something like over 80 million video hits (yes he means it eighty million) and over 75,000 Facebook followers,” continued Ceglinski. ” Every single country in the world has taken on this video and this idea and there’s so many people behind us, it’s absolutely incredible.”
In addition to dollars, this social-media feeding frenzy quickly began attracting the attention of environmentalists who wanted to help out with the project, clearly demonstrating that Ceglinski and Turton had struck a melodic chord with their brilliant idea.
“There was a nuclear scientist that used to work for the American Navy, he wanted to somehow help out, I don’t think he wants to make it nuclear, but he wants to get his brain in there,” said Ceglinski. “There’s marine biologists, plastics people want to be involved. There’s a guy over in the UK who specializes in recycling plastics doing the plastics washes and sorting them.”
“There’s different groups that want to get involved; Parlay for the Oceans, the America’s Cup people. America’s Cup racing management, they started to send us emails; we want to have a green point in our program, can we take Seabins with us?,” continued Ceglinski. “Then Landrover Ben Ainsley Racing, they did the same. Then there’s a few representatives for the Olympics in Rio.”
Additionally, the Seabin team has received communications from environmental thought leaders ranging from Sir Richard Branson to Boyan Slatt, as well as a small Mediterranean country that suffers from plastic pollution that’s trying to become the first international government to include the Seabin in their legislation.
The Seabin Indiegogo crowd-sourcing campaign wraps up this week, the campaign has raised well over its target of US$230,000, at time of writing with 15 hours to go they at 114% of their goal, meaning that Ceglinski and Turton should receive their first real funding by late January, allowing them to pay for their legal team, continue mail out certificates, artwork, t-shirts and hats to their donors, and begin earnestly ramping up production.
At the time of this writing, the team was completing their production prototype, tweaking the design, and involving more post-consumer-waste materials into the plans in order to make the product as green as possible. The plan is to bring the device to market as quickly as possible and build up the sort of brand recognition that products such as Hoover vacuum cleaners or Coca-Cola soft drinks enjoy.
For now, the team’s goal is to successfully roll out the Seabin, possibly enter it into some design innovation awards (e.g. the DAME awards in the marine trade), and further develop the idea into larger-scale operations. “Maybe in three or four years we can start to venture outside the marinas,” said Ceglinski. ‘We’ll see, step-by-step. We’ve got bigger plans and bigger stuff on the drawing board.”