Ocean Kickstarter of the Month: Cleaning our oceans one marina at a time.

Update 2: Seabin has moved to Indiegogo. Find them here.

Update: Due to issues with the platform, Seabin has suspended its Kickstarter campaign. We will update if there is a relaunch. 

Seabin Project. An automated rubbish bin that lives in the water of marinas and collects floating rubbish, oil, fuel & detergents 24/7

Seabin Project. Cleaning our oceans one marina at a time.

The accumulation of trash in our oceans is a big deal, and while there are some very good systems designed to remove garbage from local waterways, there is also a plethora of questionable projects as well. Seabin, an automated trash collector that catches floating waste, oil, fuel and detergents from marines and other confined, high traffic waterways, fits squarely in that first group. A small, shore-powered, suction driven system draws floating trash into a container, separates oil, fuel, and detergents, and returns clean seawater back to the marina.

This Mallorca-based team has been developing Seabin for several years, and, by all accounts, have poured their time and savings into validating a functional prototype. They’ve been working with marinas and other ocean-tech groups to develop a system that is simple to use and easy to service by a single operator. While the Seabin currently draws high voltage shore power, they have visions of a future alternative-energy system.

Onward to the Ocean Kickstarter criteria!

1. Is it sound, reasonable, and informed by science? The system is mechanically sound, does what it promises, and doesn’t promise more than it does (a fatal flaw in many ocean cleanup plans). When it comes to plastic, keeping waste out of the ocean has a much bigger impact than collecting it when it’s already far out to sea. By basing the collectors at marinas, the Seabin catches trash at the source, rather than the sink. Fuel/oil-water separators are well-established technology and the pumps needed to drive the device are commercially available.

2. Is there a clear goal, timeline, and budget; and are they partnering with the people who have experience hitting those marks? They set their production goal for mid- to late-2016, which seems reasonable given that they already have working prototype and the systems is elegantly simple. The budget looks like it is right on the mark for a small production run, but I would like to know how many Seabins they plan on making. They already have an in-house production facility, and, presumably, have most of the tooling and machinery ready to go. The team is comprised of a lifelong ocean-user and a product designer, and they’ve partner with Shark Attack Mitigation Systems to provide business support. Now, a few shark experts have questioned the efficacy of SAMS product line (particularly their wetsuits), but regardless of whether patterned wetsuits deter shark attacks, SAMS has proven that they can successfully deliver an ocean product to market, so as a business partner, I find this wholly appropriate.

3. Do some of the parties involved have a successful record with other crowdfunding projects and experience delivering on rewards. There’s no way around it, these are crowdfunding newbies. The rewards are a tangled mess of different items, some of which are only vaguely related to the project. There’s no $1-$5 “show your support!” option and they’re missing the most important reward: there’s no option to “Adopt” a Seabin. For projects like this, where the item being produced is not directly for sale on the Kickstarter, simplicity is key. They also missed the opening day media window, which is critical for building a backer-base, but they’ve got time.

The Sea-Factor: Trash in the ocean is a huge issue and they’re tackling it at the source, in some of the most high-trafficked (and highly polluted) areas. They clearly understand the capabilities and limitations of their technology and are designing a system with an eye towards visibility and usability. They’ve got a great project, but not a ton of experience crowdfunding, and what they really need right now is some press.

Updates from past recommendations.

The Ocean Collection – Recycled Fishing Net Sunglasses finished an extremely strong campaign, topping out at over $180,000, more than 600% of their funding goal. Shipping was delayed by a month and they anticipate shipping early November.

OpenROV Trident – An Underwater Drone for Everyone crushed Kickstarter, bringing in over $800,000, 1600% of their goal. Tridents ship November 2016.

Sharks4Kids First Book: Meet Norman the Nurse Shark finished strong, raising over $16,000 from the $8500 goal. Well done!