A group of industrial and environmental partners have banded together to collect, analyze and divert waste captured in Seabins stationed around Harbour West Marina along Hamilton’s waterfront. The end of boating season officially marks the second year of waste capture at Harbour West, and this effort is part of a larger initiative called the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup (GLPC): the single largest initiative of its kind in the world, using waste capture technology to remove plastics found in and around marinas in the Great Lakes region.

Harbour West installed its first Seabin in 2019, after seeing some of the efforts taking place in ocean marinas, and a second last year through the GLPC program. It is estimated that a staggering 10 million kilograms of plastic enters the largest freshwater system in the world each year, from Canada and the United States; and plastic debris accounts for around 80% of the litter found on Great Lakes shorelines.

“To really address plastic pollution, we need to focus on two things at once: getting plastic that’s already in the water out, and putting systems in place to stop plastic from continuing to flow in every year,” says Christopher Hilkene, CEO of Pollution Probe, the environmental not-for-profit that, along with the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR), is spearheading the GLPC.

Ultimately, through the data collected and research generated, the team hopes to encourage residents and businesses to rethink our habits on land, and keep plastic out of the lake.

For the first time this season, staff and volunteers at the Bay Area Restoration Council came on board the GLPC to lead the waste characterization and analysis process locally in Hamilton. The data collected by BARC will feed directly into the program’s future advocacy for policy change around plastics and creating a circular economy around the Great Lakes.

Graciously, Burlington steel provider, Laurel Steel provided the funding for a third Seabin this year through GLPC as part of their sustainability mandate.

The partners look forward to continuing the program locally and contributing data collected in Hamilton to help improve our small corner of the Lake Ontario for future generations.

Learn more about this initiative at www.greatlakesplasticcleanup.org