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SpillTech’s small, mobile surface drone collects plastic waste

Published 22 Mar 2023 (updated 3 June 2024) · 2 min read

Quick information

At a glance

  • Mobile device for collecting floating waste in small bodies of water
  • Based on oil spill technology which uses skimmers to collect floating waste
  • Prototype deployed in Norway

SpillTech is developing the PortBin robot, a small and mobile surface drone which collects waste from port areas and other small bodies of water.

Plastic waste is a growing concern in oceans, rivers and other bodies of water. In 2018, the European Commission published a Europe-wide strategy for reducing plastic waste, which emphasises the need for making the economy more circular.

Cleaning up waste, however, is also an essential part of the equation. Removing plastic waste will require new tools and technologies that are easy to deploy and operate.

From oil spills to waste collection

Based on technology from oil spill response systems, SpillTech is developing the PortBin robot. The PortBin robot is a surface drone traveling around small to medium-sized bodies of water hoovering up floating waste.

The PortBin robot collects the floating surface waste into an approximately 1 000-litre mesh bag, which is manually emptied on shore. An automated docking station for charging and emptying is under development.

The PortBin robot is developed in collaboration with the University of South-Eastern Norway (USN) and in close dialogue with port authorities. Starting out with a simple waypoint route, the next step will be autonomous mobility with machine learning and an ability to actively find floating waste and move to where waste is located.

SpillTech has developed a range of waste collection products, that includes the PortBin robot and the PortBin tide as well as the TrashTrawl.

Spilltech portbinrobot in water

Concrete benefits

Once commercialised, the PortBin robot will help to remove floating waste from port areas, rivers and other small bodies of water. It will be a practical and flexible tool for those wishing to remove plastic waste from ecosystems.

Market potential

Demand for measures to tackle plastic waste is on the rise. In 2019, 180 countries signed the UN Basel Convention on plastic waste, which aims to create legally binding mechanisms for handling plastic waste worldwide.

The first product in SpillTech’s waste removal series, the PortBin tide, was launched commercially in 2017. It has been sold to many ports and harbours in Norway, Denmark and the UK. SpillTech is currently exploring market opportunities in Asia, Europe and North America.

Trond Lindheim

Product manager / CEO

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