On YouTube: RIT and Seneca Park Zoo Society Host Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup
Marine Debris - News

Attendees were able to help clean up litter in the area as well as view demonstrations of plastic cleanup technology. The litter collected will be analyzed and categorized, and the data from it will be gleaned to help protect the Great Lake Regions for now and the future. 

— Published by WHAM; Additional information from Luke Auburn, RIT News

Rochester, NY, April 15, 2023 — Today, the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and the Seneca Park Zoo Society partnered to hold a Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup (GLPC) event at the Port of Rochester.

The purpose of the event was to educate members of the public on how they can address plastic pollution and show some of the latest technology in the field to help combat it.

Attendees were able to view demonstrations of plastic cleanup technology, get educational materials about plastic pollution, and help clean up litter in the area. The litter collected during the clean-up event, hosted by the Seneca Park Zoo Society, will be analyzed and categorized, and the data from it will be gleaned to help protect the Great Lake Regions for now and the future.

The event was made possible through partnerships with the GLPC, Monroe County, the City of Rochester,  and through funding and support provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Marine Debris Program and New York Sea Grant.

The GLPC, a joint effort between the bi-national Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR) and Pollution Probe, is the first of its kind using innovative technology to remove plastics and other debris at sites across the region, including in Rochester. The litter collected will be analyzed and categorized, and valuable data will be gleaned to help protect the Great Lakes region, now and for future generations.

In Fall 2021, professor Christy Tyler from the Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences and Associate Professor Matthew Hoffman from the School of Mathematical Sciences secured two NOAA Marine Debris Program awards to investigate plastic waste entering the Great Lakes and develop prevention and removal measures. 

“We are excited to speak with the public about some of the innovative ways we are studying and cleaning up plastic pollution in our local waterways,” said Tyler ahead of today's event. “RIT is becoming a hub for plastic pollution research, and we look forward to showcasing new pieces of technology like Seabins and LittaTraps that are helping us address, analyze, and prevent pollution.”

(l-r) RIT’s Christy Tyler (NYSG-funded PI), Paige Arieno (RIT environmental science student), and Matthew Hoffman (RIT professor) install a Littatrap in a storm drain in Brighton. Credit: Brian Quigley

The Seabin is a trash skimmer designed to be installed in the water of marinas, yacht clubs, and ports. The clean tech unit acts as a floating garbage bin, skimming the surface of the water by pumping water into the device. The Seabin can intercept floating debris, macro and micro plastics, and even microfibers, with an additional filter.

The Enviropod LittaTrap is a patented catch basin basket that sits inside the stormwater drain and prevents litter and other debris carried by stormwater from entering the storm sewer system. The trap’s mesh basket is designed to capture and retain 100 percent of plastic and other debris over 5 millimeters.

“We are very pleased to partner with RIT and the Seneca Park Zoo as part of the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup,” said Mark Fisher, president and CEO, Council of the Great Lakes Region, ahead of today's event. “Through this collaboration, we will be able to capture and remove more plastics from local waterways as well as learn more about potential sources and pathways so that we can implement solutions that will forge a future without plastic waste and pollution.”

Tyler, Hoffman, Environmental Education Specialist Kaeti Stoss, Seneca Park Zoo Society naturalists, and RIT students were on hand at the GLPC event to speak with attendees about their research.

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More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 34 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University in Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/nycoastlines for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly.

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