Artificial Intelligence (AI) Project

What is Artificial Intelligence?


Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the simulation of human intelligence in computers that are programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions. 

With your help, this technology will be able to be strategically utilised to speed up data collection, accuracy and therefore help to create solutions to the problem of plastic marine pollution.

Project Purpose

Plastic Free Seas is partnering with Clearbot to help them build the world’s first fully open source AI (artificial intelligence) model and dataset for trash detection

This will create a springboard for hundreds of potential applications, studies and projects around trash detection and collection.

This citizen science project enables participants to make a direct contribution to research while volunteering their time.

The more data there is on marine pollution, the easier it is to help solve the problem.

Project Goal

We hope to receive 2,000-3,000 different pictures of each of the specific items in the list below.

In order to ‘teach’ a digital programme to identify various waste items found on beaches, the specific items must be identified and labelled by people. Many pictures of each item are needed in order to ensure that the AI will work to a high level of accuracy. 

The following list of commonly found and easy to identify items is only the starting point, and more items will be added over time. Eventually, the AI will learn to identify the majority of the items that wash up on the beach.

Initial Focus Items:

  • Can – metal, beverage
  • Cap – plastic, drink bottle
  • Cigarette lighter – plastic
  • Cup – clear, disposable plastic
  • Drink bottle without a cap – plastic, any size
  • Drink bottle with a cap – plastic, any size
  • Food container – takeaway, polystyrene/’Styrofoam’
  • Fork – disposable plastic
  • Insulating box – polystyrene/Styrofoam, fish/veg boxes
  • Liquid carton – drink box/ Tetra Pak
  • Mask – disposable
  • Shopping bag – plastic
  • Spoon – disposable plastic
  • Straw – disposable plastic
  • Tissue packet – pocket size

Project Guidelines – What You Need to Do

Take Pictures and Upload Them

1) Take pictures of rubbish on the beach. Each picture should have between 1 and 5 of the listed items in it.

  • Ideally, the item should be fully visible (not cut off).  It’s ok if there is some slight overlap or items or dirt on them, but the goal is fully visible. Note that each item in a picture will be identified/ labelled separately.
  • The picture must be clearly in focus.
  • Take the picture from directly above – not at an angle.
  • Try not to move/ arrange the rubbish too much so the AI can learn to identify rubbish as appears when it is washed in.
  • If you have already collected the rubbish and want to take pictures, take pictures of the items individually, one item per picture.

2) You may upload the pictures straight from your phone to the Clearbot website.


You must upload the pictures as a zip file. Click here to find out how to create a zip file.

Labelling the Pictures

Information on how you can help us to label the uploaded pictures coming soon!

Examples of GOOD photos for the AI Project

Examples of BAD photos for the AI Project

We hope you will participate in this valuable citizen science project. If you have any questions, please feel free to Contact Us.

Did You Know?

One of the most widely used environmental apps that combines AI technology with Citizen Science is iNaturalist which is used to identify plants and animals all over the world.  It has had more than 55 million observations recorded!

Did You Know?

To many people, AI technology is seen as more of a threat competing for jobs and intruding on people’s private lives, than a helpful tool and an ally for the future development of human life, culture and environmental presevation.