KAB Innovation Spotlight: Largest Network of Electric Skimmers Introduced in TN River; Potential to Remove 54K Pounds of Litter a Year

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (March 25, 2022) – Keep America Beautiful® is excited to announce the installation of 18 Seabins in the Tennessee River and some of its tributaries. This will make the area home to the largest network of electric litter skimmer devices in any river system in the world. The installation was made possible by two grants from KAB and the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

“The leadership and innovation of the Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful and Keep the Shoals Beautiful is truly inspirational and a model for the over 700 Keep America Beautiful Affiliates across the nation,” said Randy Hartmann, Senior Director of Affiliate Operations for Keep America Beautiful. “With over 26 billion pieces of litter found along-side our nation’s waterways, it is critical to clean up this litter.”

The Keep America Beautiful 2020 National Litter Study found that 87.9% of littered items are 4 inches or smaller in size. Working 24/7, the Seabins capture that “small litter” on the surface of the water, making it a very effective tool in cleaning up waterways. Each device can remove up to 3,000 pounds of marine debris a year, meaning that the 18 devices installed along the Tennessee River watershed have the potential of removing up to 54,000 pounds a year. The devices also filter out gasoline, oils, and microplastics from the water.

“Until now, all of our work has only been able to prevent microplastics in our waterways, so we are thrilled to be making an effort to actually mitigate microplastics out of the water,” said Kathleen Gibi, Executive Director of Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful. “We’re grateful to TDOT and Keep America Beautiful for these—as I see it—revolutionary grants and to our partners who will be maintaining the Seabins to make this trailblazing project possible.”

Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful is working with partners across the seven-state Tennessee River watershed to install 18 Seabin devices. They are currently installed and maintained primarily by marina staff in Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina. KTNRB is still looking to find a home for six remaining Seabins. Staff will document the amount and types of litter collected so that the data can be analyzed. Seabins are either installed or are about to be installed at the following sites:

  • Louisville Landing Marina | Louisville, Tenn.
  • Volunteer Landing Marina | Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Tennessee Aquarium | Chattanooga, Tenn.
  • Harrison Bay State Park | Soddy Daisy, Tenn.
  • Pickwick Landing State Park | Hardin County, Tenn.
  • Paris Landing State Park | Paris, Tenn.
  • Lake Ocoee Inn & Marina | Benton, Tenn.
  • Tellico Marina | Vonore, Tenn.
  • Clifton RV & Marina | Clifton, Tenn.
  • Fontana Village Resort & Marina | Fontana, N.C.
  • Joe Wheeler State Park | Rogersville, Ala.
  • Florence Harbor Marina | Florence, Ala.

TDOT’s ‘Nobody Trashes Tennessee’ litter campaign provided funding to KTNRB for 10 devices to be purchased, and KAB funded eight. KAB first introduced KTNRB to the Seabin device after French distributing company, The SEArial Cleaners, approached Keep America Beautiful about introducing Seabins to the United States. KAB selected three affiliates for a pilot project to test the Seabins on different bodies of water and, after success was reported, KAB announced a nationwide grant for Seabin devices to affiliates in 2021. KTNRB received six Seabins in that grant program and then collaborated with Keep the Shoals Beautiful in Florence, Alabama, which also received two through the same grant.

“We at Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful are very serious when we say that we’re aiming to work ourselves out of work, and coming at the litter from different angles such as litter prevention and education, physical litter cleanup, and now electric-powered filtration of our waterways will help us achieve that end game,” said Gibi. “When you look at all of the partners who came together to make our Seabin network possible, it’s obvious that we’re all determined to protect our precious Tennessee River, the most beautiful and biodiverse river in the nation.”

To learn more and get involved, click here.

KTNRB made the announcement of the project on World Water Day alongside representatives from TDOT, KAB, the City of Chattanooga, and the Tennessee Aquarium. The Aquarium manages one of the Seabins and will be integrating Seabins into educational programming and examining litter trends discovered through the collections.

Additional coverage of the project:

https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2022/mar/22/seabins-help-cletennessee-river/565571/

https://fox17.com/news/local/litter-collection-devices-to-be-installed-on-tennessee-river

https://www.tn.gov/tdot/news/2022/3/22/new-seabin-devices-will-clean-the-tennessee-river-.html

https://www.memphisflyer.com/25084222-2

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Contact: Abby Turpin, Director of Communications
Keep America Beautiful®
aturpin@kab.org