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Nearly 63K pieces of plastic collected from Toronto Harbour within 6 months last year

A Wasteshark collects trash from Toronto's harbourfront. (Provided by University of Toronto Trash Team and Ports Toronto) A Wasteshark collects trash from Toronto's harbourfront. (Provided by University of Toronto Trash Team and Ports Toronto)
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Nearly 63,000 pieces of small plastic were removed from the Toronto Harbour in a six-month period last year.

The University of Toronto Trash Team said that about 43 kilograms of litter were collected from its network of traps between May and October 2023.

“Tiny debris, including microplastics (items smaller than five millimetres) remain by far the most common items by count collected by Seabins,” they said in a news release.

In total, about 62,996 pieces of small plastic were pulled from the harbour.

 

The team said that it appears as though there was a slight decrease in the amount of microplastics collected, in part due to “additional outreach and educational efforts towards waste reduction.”

"Floating debris and plastic pollution in the water is not a problem unique to Toronto. We know that this is an issue prevalent in urban waterways around the world,” RJ Steenstra, President and CEO of PortsToronto, said in a statement.

“What is unique about Toronto is that we have a coalition of like-minded organizations that have come together to find innovative solutions that leverage new technology and local research and trades to help make a difference.”

The Trash Team—made of students, researchers, volunteers and staff—has been collecting trash in Lake Ontario since 2019, using technology known as Seabins and Wastesharks.

A Seabin is a floating garbage can that collects waste by gently pumping water through a mesh bag, creating a vacuum that sucks items inside, while a Wasteshark moves slowly along the surface of the water.

Since 2019, they have collected hundreds of kilograms of litter, including hundreds of thousands of small plastic pieces.

In 2022, the Trash Team collected 96,208 pieces of waste, equalling just over 118 kilograms.

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