An Australian invention to reduce marine pollution is set to go global after becoming a viral sensation, attracting more than 120 million views online.
The unique ocean-cleaning technology, dubbed “Seabin”, has raised more than $300,000 in two months during a crowdfunding campaign.
After becoming frustrated at the amount of rubbish floating around in the ocean, surfers Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski quit their jobs to come up with a sustainable solution.
They designed an automated rubbish bin with an electric pump for marina docks that many hope could help reduce ocean pollution.
With the help of WA seed investors Shark Mitigation Systems, the duo designed a prototype of the bin in Perth before taking it to market in Mallorca in Spain, a marina capital of Europe.
When the ABC first spoke with Mr Ceglinski in late December the crowdfunding campaign was “ticking along slowly” and had raised $50,000.
Shortly after the story was published, the invention’s promo video went from 10 million hits to globally viral.
The Seabin video has been re-posted on dozens of international websites, racking up more than 30 million views on the site Cooler Magazine alone.
Mr Ceglinski said the worldwide response to the Seabin had been overwhelming.
“It’s been absolutely amazing,” he said.
“It was really slow for about three-and-a-half weeks or so and then my telephone started going crazy.
“We started to make $20,000 a day, and then all of sudden the video went viral, it was incredible.
“I was getting about four emails every minute, the Discovery Channel is coming over from America at the end of the month and CNN ran the story.”
He said the attention had at first been overwhelming.
“It’s freaked both of us out, … it’s been a real eye-opener for two guys that have come from nothing,” Mr Ceglinski said.
“I’ve been in the office 22 hours a day, it’s been our life for the last 45 days.
“I think probably every marina in the world somehow called or emailed me. People from Japan, Korea, Maldives, Bora Bora. People from marinas without oceans even, just on lakes in eastern Europe.
“I’ve only just started sleeping. We have absolutely been blown away, we knew it was going to be big but we never expected it to go off in such a way.”
The Seabin Project has partnered with New York environmental group Parley for the Oceans, who provide plastic collected from the ocean for consumer products.
The Seabins will use 70 to 80 per cent ocean plastic in their construction.
Hawaiian environmental group Sustainable Coastlines and UK health author David Wolfe have also both publicly supported the project.
Mr Ceglinski said the first priority was to send out 5,000 rewards to everybody that contributed to the crowdfunding campaign.
The duo is in negotiations with a French manufacturer that has factories in Canada and Perth, with a global distribution network.
Mr Ceglinski said they were hoping to sign the contract by the end of the month and sell to the market at the end of year.
But he said there would be considerable product testing first.
“We don’t want to want have any problems and we need to iron out all the bugs, which I think is going to take three months of solid testing around Europe,” he said.
The team engaged a Madrid-based marine scientist after concerns were raised about potential impact on micro-organisms.
“We would like to have some scientific data and facts behind us, and it’s also a good opportunity to study to impacts of the Seabin and how much we can do with it,” he said.
“We also have some fish-deterrent technology we are starting to incorporate.”
Despite the international attention, Mr Ceglinski said he was yet to make a living from the invention.
“The money still needs to clear and then we can pay ourselves a small wage to pay the rent, but most of it is all going to production fees, patenting and lawyers,” he said.
“It’s going to get easier now, [but] we almost hit rock bottom.”
Read article at ABC News