PortsToronto’s Trash Trapping Program Removed 43kg and Nearly 63,000 Small Pieces of Plastic Pollution from Toronto Harbour in 2023

The results are in! PortsToronto and program partner the University of Toronto Trash Team (U of T Trash Team) are proud to report that the Trash Trapping Program’s network of trash traps, which includes eight Seabins and two WasteSharks, removed 43kg of litter, including 62,996 pieces of small plastic pollution from the Toronto Harbour over the course of five months.

With its fifth season now complete, research by the U of T Trash Team further confirms the important role trash-trapping technology can play in capturing floating plastics and microplastics in the water. In addition to increasing waste literacy among the public, the U of T Trash Team’s work to characterize and quantify litter diverted by trash traps can serve to inform policies that mitigate plastic pollution and protect the wildlife and people of the Great Lakes.
 
In 2023, the most common items collected by the Seabins (by count) were tiny debris, including microplastics – items smaller than five-millimetres. Also included in the 43 kg of anthropogenic debris we diverted were plastic pellets, pieces of foam from food containers, plastic bottle caps, cigarette butts and fatbergs. This year, using the same methodology, the research team has begun to see signs of a decrease in the amount of microplastics collected in PortsToronto Seabins, which could suggest the benefits of additional outreach and education efforts toward waste reduction.
 
This was the first year that WasteSharks were included in the research results. Over the course of only three expeditions in October 2023, the Toronto WasteSharks “Ebb and Flow” collected 19.2 kilograms of floating trash, including nearly 600 pieces of microplastics. Wastesharks, which are equipped with a large catch basin, captured mostly large plastic fragments – including large pieces of foam from construction and food containers, hard plastic fragments, as well as plastic water bottles, caps, cups, lids and straws. Data also revealed that fatbergs were within the top ten most commonly found items in both the Seabins and the WasteSharks. Fatbergs are a rock-like mass formed by the combination of fat, grease and wastewater materials, which were typically found following storm events with heavy rainfall.
 
With a larger capacity and remote controlled agility, the Toronto WasteSharks are able to collect a higher volume of debris in a shorter period, collecting nearly the same amount as all the Seabins combined over the entire field season.

To view detailed data and results from the 2023 research season, click here

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Ice and Cold Water Emergency Response Training Exercise to Take Place on Toronto Islands on February 4,10 and 22

From approximately 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on February 4, 10 and 22, 2024, the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Fire Department will conduct an ice and cold water rescue training session on the Toronto Islands.

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