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Friday 20 September 2019

Harbour tackles ugly plastics menace by installing 'sea bin'

Rowan Byrne with Harbour master Harry Mcloughlan and Senator Catherine Noone
Rowan Byrne with Harbour master Harry Mcloughlan and Senator Catherine Noone

A sea bin has been installed off Howth Harbour to collect plastic waste.

The ugly sight of plastic bottles and rubbish floating in the sea has become all too familiar.

So marine biologist Rowan Byrne, from Howth, decided it was time to do something.

He approached harbour master Harry McLoughlin earlier this year and asked about installing the bin.

Mr Byrne said its pump sucks in rubbish while oxygenating the water.

Howth harbour
Howth harbour

Simple

"At the base of the bin - which just breaks the surface of the water - is a small pump," he said.

"This drags in any floating debris - plastic bottles, crisp packets, bottle tops and the like.

"They're collected in a net and, as often as you need to, you lift the net out and take the plastic out of the sea.

"It's quite a simple operation and it works 24/7."

The bin will be a huge help in cleaning the waters, said Mr McLoughlin, whose team can collect a tonne of rubbish in three hours.

It has been strategically placed on a pontoon in Howth harbour that will go up and down with the tide.

"If the bin needs to be cleaned out every day, we'll do it every day," said Mr McLoughlin.

"The harbour staff do a lot of cleaning manually. We can collect anything up to a tonne of rubbish in two or three hours."

A sea bin can trap up to 90,000 shopping bags a year. It can also skim surface oils and pollutants as well as microplastics.

Flossie Donnelly (12), who has raised money to install the first sea bins in Ireland, was delighted by the addition in Howth.

Cleaner

"I raised €4,500 to get two sea bins in Dun Laoghaire just over a year ago," she said.

Known as Flossie The Beach Cleaner, she picks up rubbish from Dublin's strands.

However, the bin helps that little bit more.

"It's all very well collecting rubbish, but the oil in the water you just can't collect, and the microplastic you can collect, but it would take such a long time," said Flossie. "Luckily, the sea bin can collect it all."

The new bin is the fifth in Ireland and is sponsored by engineering company Mott MacDonald. There are two off Dun Laoghaire, one off Bangor, Co Down, and another off Dingle.

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