One of only two boats in the world made from 99 per cent plastic waste has been launched in Richmond to raise awareness of the growing levels of plastic pollution in Britain’s waterways.
The boat, called 'PET Project', was the brainchild of environmental charity Hubbub and was funded equally by Tideway and the Starbucks 5p paper cup charge. It is made from recycled single-use plastic called ‘Plaswood’, which is used as a substitute for wood. As part of this project, Tideway volunteers collected a tonne of plastic waste from the River Thames, which will be sent to the Plaswood factory in Dumfries, Scotland.
‘PET Project’ will be used to raise awareness of plastic pollution in our waterways and oceans and to educate local schoolchildren and businesses about this issue through hands-on ‘Plastic Fishing’ trips on the boat, with the City Bridge Trust providing funding for local schools to go out plastic fishing.
The 12-seater punt has been built by expert boat builder Mark Edwards MBE who also built The Queen’s barge ‘The Gloriana’ and Hubbub’s first boat, ‘Poly-Mer’, which has been collecting plastic waste at London’s Docklands since its launch last year1.
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Thérèse Coffey, officially launched the boat yesterday ahead of its maiden voyage with passengers including local girl guides and people from the rowing community.
‘PET Project’ will be moored at Richmond Bridge Boathouses where plastic fishing trips will set off from. With each trip, the boat will help remove more plastic debris from the river Thames, which will then be recycled and go towards making further boats with the same aim.
Darren White, Head of Environmental Sustainability at Tideway, said: “We are delighted to support this fantastic project. As an environmentally-conscious organisation with a vision for a cleaner River Thames, Tideway teams across the project have been collecting vast amounts of plastic waste directly from the river, with the aim of recycling this back into products with social and economic value. It’s hugely rewarding to see Tideway volunteers already helping to protect the river even before the tunnel has been completed.”
Gavin Ellis, Co-founder and Director of Hubbub said: “It’s fantastic to see that people have woken up to the problem of plastic pollution in our waterways and the terrible impact it has on our environment. 80% of ocean plastic comes from land. Litter travels from our hand and ends up in our rivers and oceans where it is broken down and being eaten by and harming wildlife. However, while our awareness has grown, the amount of litter entering our waterways is still increasing.
With this second boat made from 99% recycled plastic waste, we not only want to keep the issue of plastic pollution at the front of people’s mind, but equally demonstrate that plastic has a value and can be turned into something useful. Our hope is to demonstrate what is possible and inspire other parts of the UK with waterways, canals and rivers to follow suit.”
Robert Lynch, vice president operations, Starbucks Europe Middle East and Africa, said: “Finding ways to reduce waste and partner with our customers to help them make more informed choices has always been very important to us. That is why we launched a 5p paper cup charge across our stores earlier this year. We are really pleased to see that those funds are now being used to support the new PET Project, meaning local school children and business can benefit from the chance to learn more about the impact of plastics on the environment.”
Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “I congratulate Hubbub on their innovative creation to raise awareness of the growing levels of plastic pollution in Britain’s waterways.
“Since the launch of Hubbub’s first boat last year we have introduced a world-leading ban on microbeads in rinse-off personal care products, announced our intention to introduce a deposit return scheme to drive up recycling of bottles and cans, and announced our intention to ban the sale of plastic straws, subject to consultation.
“But there is still more to do to tackle the environmental crisis of plastic waste, and we must work together to stop this scourge on our seas and marine life."
Schools and local businesses interested in taking part in a plastic fishing trip should contact [email protected]
Notes to Editors:
Tideway is the Company delivering the Thames Tideway Tunnel, London’s new ‘super sewer’, which will prevent millions of tonnes of sewerage entering the River Thames. For media enquiries contact the Tideway Press Office on 020 3744 4012
Hubbub is a charity which explores innovative ways to interest mainstream consumers in important sustainability issues, through different ‘hubs’ of activity: Food; Fashion; Homes; Neighbourhoods. Hubbub’s previous campaigns have included #SquareMileChallenge, the UK’s first large scale solution to coffee cup recycling, #GiftABundle to get pre-loved baby clothes back into circulation and #PumpkinRescue to encourage more people to eat the carvings from their Halloween Pumpkins.
About Starbucks Coffee Company
Since 1971, Starbucks Coffee Company has been committed to ethically sourcing and roasting high-quality arabica coffee. Today, with more than 28,000 stores around the globe, Starbucks is the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in the world. Through our unwavering commitment to excellence and our guiding principles, we bring the unique Starbucks Experience to life for every customer through every cup. To share in the experience; please visit us in our stores or online at www.starbucks.com. For news on Starbucks in EMEA, please visit www.news.starbucks/EMEA
Plaswood recycled plastic lumber has been manufactured in Dumfries, Scotland, by BPI Recycled Products since 1995. BPI Recycled Products is the largest recycler of waste plastic films in Europe with an annual plastics recycling capacity in excess of 100,000 tonnes.
Plaswood is manufactured 100% from a variety of recovered and recycled waste plastics including bottles, agricultural films plus post use plastics. Plaswood requires no maintenance and unlike wood will not rot, splinter or degrade with age. Plaswood is the environmentally superior alternative to conventional construction materials such as steel, concrete and wood with a much lower carbon footprint and energy consumption.