Trash Team removes nearly 100,000 pieces of plastic from Toronto Harbour

The Toronto Harbour is now free of close to 100,000 pieces of plastic thanks to the team behind the Trash Trapping Program Network.

According to he “Trash Team” — a partnership between PortsToronto  and the University of Toronto —  they were able to remove 92,891 pieces of pollution — more than 100 kilograms — from the city’s Harbour as part of their Seabin program which has been trapping garbage from the Toronto Bay bay since 2019.

Using 10 Seabins (essentially a floating rubbish bin that removes plastic, oil and other detritus from lakes and waterways), the team were able to  collect anthropogenic (pollutants originating from human activity) debris which also included hundreds to thousands of pieces of hard plastic fragments broken off from larger plastic including food wrappers, cigarette butts, bottle caps cigar tips and plastic straws.

A seabin in action

“Seven U of T Trash Team research assistants worked daily throughout the summer to empty PortsToronto’s Seabins and quantify and characterize what we diverted from Lake Ontario,” said Dr. Chelsea Rochman, Head of Operations at the U of T Trash Team. “Their positive impact helps remove litter and synthesize data that can be used to inform upstream policies to reduce plastic pollution.”

For the first time, among the top ten large items found in Seabins were “fatbergs” —rock-like masses that are formed by the combination of fat, grease and wastewater materials including wet wipes and diapers, typically found following storms and heavy rainfall. More than 100 of these fatbergs were collected by the trash team, a reminder, they say of Toronto residents to “consider carefully what is washed down the drain.”

RJ Steenstra, President and CEO, PortsToronto said in the release that that over the last century, they have “witnessed a great many changes, notably the troubling rise in plastic pollution that now seriously threatens the sustainability and biodiversity of our lakes and waterways.”

He continued to say they look forward to continuing to learn from devices like Seabins “in an effort to educate, change behaviour and ultimately preserve our waterways for future generations?”

The full 2022 report can be found here.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO