New program aims to divert and remove plastics from Lake Ontario

A technician installs a Seabin at a City of Kingston marina on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. The device skims the surface of the water, collecting floating debris, macro and microplastics and even microfibres. Image via the City of Kingston.

A new and innovative device has been installed at locations along Kingston’s waterfront to divert and remove plastics from the water found in marinas in the Great Lakes region.

Called a Seabin, the technology, installed through the partnership between the City of Kingston and the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup (GLPC), operates as a floating garbage can, skimming the surface of the water and collecting floating debris, macro and microplastics and even microfibers, according to a release from the City.

“Lake Ontario holds a special place in the hearts of many Kingstonians. We rely on it for swimming, boating, fishing, and so much more. Not only does it provide us with many recreational opportunities, support tourism, provide a home to countless wildlife, and offer one of the best views in the city—it connects us to communities hundreds of kilometres away, in Canada and across the border,” said Amy Gibson, Manager Recreation Services at the City.

The equipment was installed at Confederation Basin and Portsmouth Olympic Harbour on Wednesday, Jun. 8, 2022.

According to the City, the stationary devices will be inspected and emptied every few days by municipal marina staff, and contents will be assessed by researchers from Queen’s University. Learn more about how the devices work on the Seabin project website.

While many people appreciate Kingston’s waterfront, the City said that pollution continues to be an issue throughout the Great Lakes. Researchers estimate that 10 million kilograms of plastics enter the Great Lakes every year, polluting the lakes and surrounding watersheds—something that could cost up to $400 million annually to combat, according to the release.

Research on plastic pollution pathways and long-term environmental impacts is evolving rapidly, and microplastics pose a great danger, the City stated. Found in surface water, sediment, and wildlife within and around the Great Lakes, microplastics reach as high as 1.25 million particles per square kilometer – a concentration on par with what is found in the ocean’s garbage patches, according to the release.

“It’s up to all of us to ensure Lake Ontario is looked after, and the City of Kingston is proud to participate in this project,” said Gibson.

According to the release, the City of Kingston is among several municipalities along the Great Lakes that have launched the technology, as part of the GLPC’s “Little Bits. Big Problem” campaign. As part of the partnership, the City said it will provide regular updates on this work on its social media channels.

For more information, the City said that community members are invited to follow the conversation @GLPCleanup, #LittleBitsBigProblem, and visit

2 thoughts on “New program aims to divert and remove plastics from Lake Ontario

  • A very expensive garbage can?

    How much do these units cost? Apparently, they are only useful in calm water for capturing floating plastic debris, and need an electric pump to operate. Great to capture pop and water bottles chucked overboard by boaters in marinas, (but useless outside of the breakwater).

    Strikes me as unusual that the primary sponsor of this project is a plastics company (Nova Chemicals, owned by an investment company in Abu Dhabi). So, a country that derives most of its wealth from fossil fuels wants to keep marinas clean, and I would guess that the City of Kingston is paying a few thousand dollars for each of these floating garbage bins, (using electric pumps and needing to be hand-emptied by working staff). Reminds me of a solar-powered garbage bin that compacted its trash, so that it only had to be emptied half as often, (at a rather high price tag), that the City installed at Artillery Park.

    Instead of these green-washing scams, (like charities that want sponsors to pay crews to clean plastic debris from their beaches), governments need to get serious about requiring plastic containers sold in their country or province to be biodegradable, (decompose completely within a year, not a thousand years). End this recycling nonsense, (only about 7 percent of this plastic ever gets recycled), and stop filling the landfills and environment with plastic trash.

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