Cleaning Up: We’re Already Helping

The Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup is a first-of-its-kind initiative that uses innovative technology like The Seabin trash skimmers and EnviroPod LittaTrap™ catch basin litter traps to remove plastic waste from the marinas of Lake Ontario to Lake Superior.

Ever dropped a can into a swimming pool or had the wind blow a wrapper into the water? Retrieving it was probably as simple as grabbing the nearest skimmer and fishing it out of the water. Yet, recovering the same type of waste from a larger body of water isn’t that simple. Scaling this solution, however, has been made possible through a first-of-its-kind initiative backed by industry and government to address the millions of kilograms of plastic that reach the Great Lakes every year.

The Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup uses innovative technology like trash skimmers and litter traps to remove plastic waste from the marinas of Lake Ontario to Lake Superior. The initiative relies on cutting-edge litter capture technology like the Seabin and EnviroPod LittaTrap™ to remove plastic of all shapes and sizes from waterways. The Seabin is a trash skimmer designed to be installed in the water of marinas, ports or any body of water with a calm surface. The unit acts as a floating waste bin that intercepts macro and micro plastics, while simultaneously extracting organic materials such as leaves and seaweed. EnviroPod LittaTrap™ has slightly different capabilities; it is a catch basin basket that sits inside stormwater drains to prevent litter from entering the storm drain system.

Funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has helped the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup work with local lake communities and businesses to protect the environment from plastic pollution.

Not only does the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup capture plastic waste, it also captures data. A network of community scientists measures how much plastic the cleanup technology devices collect by mass and characterizes the plastic by product type or material. The results help predict the sources of the waste. In a Seabin trial at Ports Ontario, the skimmer collected 8,785 pieces of waste over the course of a week. Researchers noted that 11% of the small debris collected was from pre-production pellets likely spilled during transportation.

The impact of industry, government and community scientists coming together shows that the collaborative work needed to combat plastic pollution is already being done. The data gleaned from the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup is an example of an effective, collaborative solution that should convince policymakers to support and invest in effective, upstream and downstream solutions to prevent litter and reduce plastic waste more broadly.