One of only two boats in the world made from 99% plastic waste was launched from Richmond Bridge Boathouses in London yesterday by environmental charity Hubbub to raise awareness of the growing levels of plastic pollution in Britain’s waterways.
Named “PET project”, the boat was funded equally by the Starbucks 5p paper cup charge and Tideway, which is building the super sewer under London to help stop sewage and litter pollution in the River Thames.
PET Project is made from recycled single-use plastic. The material, also called ‘Plaswood’, is a recycled plastic that 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.
The boat 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 ahead of its maiden voyage with passengers including local girl guides and people from the rowing community.
Following its launch, ‘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.
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.”
Darren White, Head of Environmental Sustainability at Tideway, added: “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.”
Robert Lynch, vice president operations, Starbucks Europe Middle East and Africa, commented: “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.
Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey concluded: “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”.
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