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Second boat made from recycled plastic sets sail on the Thames

Second boat made from recycled plastic sets sail on the ThamesEnvironmental charity Hubbub launched its new boat made from 99 per cent recycled plastic, ‘PET Project’, on Thursday 30 August, in a bid to raise awareness of the effect plastic pollution has on UK waterways.

Launched by Environment Minister, Thérèse Coffey, ‘PET Project’ is the second recycled boat released by Hubbub, making it one of the only two boats in the world made predominantly from recycled plastic waste. It follows last year’s ‘Poly-Mer’, which has been collecting waste at London’s Docklands since its launch.

Funded equally by Tideway and Starbucks’ five pence paper cup charge, both of Hubbub’s boats are made entirely from ‘Plaswood’, a modern material produced by Scottish plastics recycler BPI Recycled Products that can be used as a substitute for wood but consists of 100 per cent recycled single-use plastic.

‘PET Project’ was built by expert boat builder Mark Edwards MBE, who has previously built the Queen’s ‘The Gloriana’ and ‘Poly-Mer’.

Second boat made from recycled plastic sets sail on the Thames
Therese Coffey with senior Girl Guides at the launch of PET Project, holding plastic waste collected on first trip.

The aim is for ‘PET Project’ to follow the lead set by ‘Poly-Mer’ and go on frequent ‘plastic fishing’ trips with school children and businesses, funded by the City Bridge Trust, collecting more plastic debris, which will all be sent to the Plaswood factory in Dumfries, Scotland. These trips will help to remove plastic waste from the river and collect resources to gradually create a ‘recycled flotilla’ whilst educating local school children and businesses about the increasing plastic litter issue.

Hubbub hopes that by involving the younger generation in the clean-up process, it will help prevent littering happening in the first place, showing them what happens to their single-use food and drinks packaging if they are not disposed of properly.

Since its launch on 2 November 2017, ‘Poly-Mer’ has successfully collected 95 kilogrammes of recyclable plastic waste plastic, with 470 people taking part in ‘plastic fishing’ in the 12-seater punt.

‘Demonstrate what is possible’

According to Hubbub, 300 tonnes of rubbish is cleared from the Thames each year. A majority of the food and drink packaging comes from land-based sources and creates serious environmental problems, such as when it is eaten by wildlife – 70 per cent of fish in the Thames have been found to have plastic in their guts. This issue is not restricted to rivers, which empty any litter they carry into the oceans, with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation predicting that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.

Commenting on the launch, Gavin Ellis, Co-founder and Director of Hubbub, said: “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, whilst our awareness has grown, the amount of litter entering our waterways is still increasing. With this second boat made from 99 per cent 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.”

Thérèse Coffey added: “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.”

Hubbub has raised awareness of a range of other environmental issues through campaigns in recent times, such as #SquareMileChallenge, the UK’s first large scale solution to coffee cup recycling and #PumpkinRescue, to encourage more people to eat the carvings form their Halloween pumpkins.

To take part in plastic fishing trips, schools and local businesses can contact plasticfishing@hubbub.org.uk.

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