Ports Toronto, in association with the University of Toronto Trash Team, diverted tens of thousands of small plastic pieces from Toronto Harbour over a seven-week period in July 2021.

Using individual trash trapping devices known as seabins, an estimated 209 pieces of small plastic were removed daily, with the entire network capable of diverting 33-kilograms of litter throughout an entire season — the weight of approximately 3,400 plastic water bottles, which includes more than 230,000 pieces of small plastic.

The Ports Toronto Seabin Program is led by Ports Toronto and the U of T Trash Team in collaboration with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and the Waterfront Business Improvement Area (WBIA).

“This partnership and project does more than just trap trash. Together, we increase waste literacy in the community, inform research-based solutions, and mitigate plastic pollution,” said Chelsea Rochman, assistant professor at University of Toronto and co-founder of the U of T Trash Team, in a statement.

“The data collected by our students from PortsToronto’s Seabins also informs upstream solutions-based research projects aimed at increasing our understanding of litter from construction foam and industrial pellets to guide effective policy. We can’t wait for next year to increase the network and learn more about the issue of plastic pollution on our waterfront.”

The top-10 large items captured by the seabins included in descending order — plastic film, plastic fragments, bottle caps, foam, plastic cigar tips, cigarette butts, food packaging, plastic packaging, stir sticks and balloons.

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