We set sail on a ‘plastic fishing’ tour for Source2Sea Week

This month a number of international awareness days, including World Environment Day and World Oceans Day centre on our environmental responsibilities.

In last month’s blog post we highlighted a number of  environmental projects that we’ve been supporting this year, including The Great British Spring Clean and the Upstream Battle campaign led by Keep Scotland Beautiful to help make a difference to our planet.

With 80% of marine litter estimated to originate from land-based sources action needs to be taken to prevent it entering our waterways. We recently volunteered our support for Keep Scotland Beautiful’s #Source2Sea Week with clean-up activities taking place to prevent marine pollution.

During the week, we joined a team of volunteers aboard environmental charity, Hubbub’s ‘Plastic Fishing’ vessel, which supported the Source2Sea campaign. This 12-seater punt is the world’s first punt made from recycled plastic and helps educate people about the importance of cleaning up around our waterways. Operated and supported by Scottish Canals for the Source2Sea Week, the ‘Poly Roger’ began its journey at the Falkirk Wheel, and spent three days in the Clyde catchment visiting Kirkintilloch, Furhill and Dalmuir. The Hubbub boat is on tour across the UK from April-June.

Analysis from Keep Scotland Beautiful showed that during the week 85 ‘plastic fishers’ joined the punt. They collected over 52 large tubs of litter including nearly 700 plastic bottles. Across the week over 40 clean ups were held near canals, waterways and on beaches across Scotland, with almost 2,000 people involved. A range of activities also took place as part of Upstream Battle, its ambitious campaign to stop marine litter at the source across the Clyde Valley.

On its marine litter facts website, the British Plastics Federation rightly indicates: “Plastic has no place in landfill and certainly not in the ocean or waterways – it’s a valuable resource and should be collected so we can recycle it into new products or reclaim the energy.”

As plastic products have become part of modern lifestyles, environmental concerns have mounted in relation to its production, distribution and disposal. However, as we have outlined in previous posts when it is properly collected and disposed of, plastic packaging provides many sustainability benefits.

When choosing products that are packaged in plastic materials, organisations should always choose products that are clearly labelled as recyclable and opt for plastics that are created from recycled material. Recent moves by the European Parliament to ban a range of single-use plastics are designed to help stop pollution of the oceans, with the UK government also following suit last month. A clear distinction between what is and isn’t ‘single use’ plastic will also help people make informed decisions. The real issue is not with plastics themselves, but with recycling rates, end-user behaviour, and product design.

We all want to see the recovery, reuse and recycling of all types of packaging, and ensure materials don’t end up in landfill or in our oceans. In our desire to do the right thing, the challenge for organisations and individuals is not simply to eschew plastics in favour of less resource efficient alternatives, but to choose responsibly sourced materials with the lowest carbon footprint. The bigger concern is climate change, and we must avoid knee-jerk reactions that lead to resources being burnt through faster, using heavier and more polluting alternatives that use more energy and waste more food. We must, instead, become champions of resource efficiency and recycling best practice.

For more information about solutions to marine litter visit www.marinelitterthefacts.com/solutions-1