Fishing net recycling project to reduce plastic pollution

It will be rolled out in ports across Scotland

A recycling scheme supporting the recovery of nets from ports and beaches has been launched by Keep Britain Tidy.

This scheme will reduce waste and plastic pollution, preserve marine life and support local communities.

Funded by the ScottishPower Foundation, the Ports Ocean Restoration Project will be deployed across Scotland and North East England to protect marine biodiversity and habitats, which are key to tackling the climate crisis.

It will address the issue of lost fishing nets – or “ghost”, which make up about 10% of plastic waste in our oceans according to research released by Greenpeace. These lost nets can get stuck to coral reefs and the ocean floor, causing damage to the sea floor and, in some cases, the death of marine species.

Once lost, the nets continue to hunt marine life, catching species such as crabs, rays, fish, mammals, and even birds. These then act as bait for larger species such as seals, dolphins and whales, which are also found entangled in nets.

The latest report from the World Wildlife Fund shows that lost nets are responsible for harming about two-thirds of marine mammal species, half of seabird species and all species of sea turtles – often exposing them to a slow and inhumane death. The total number of species affected by entanglement or ingestion of plastic debris has more than doubled since 1997.

The Ocean Recovery Project will set up a UK-based recycling system that includes removing discarded nets and recycling them into plastic pellets.

During a pilot project, Keep Britain Tidy used marine plastic to stage the iconic dance floor of the 2019 Glastonbury Festival, Shangri-La. This year, with the help of funding, the project will use both rope and mesh to create recycled outdoor furniture that can be given to schools and other good causes.

Alison Ogden-Newton OBE, CEO of Keep Britain Tidy, said:We are pleased that the ScottishPower Foundation is supporting our pioneering ocean restoration project. We have all seen the damage plastic does once it enters our seas. The ScottishPower Foundation grant will allow us to work with fishing ports across the UK to recycle used fishing nets as well as support clean beach groups in recycling nets.

“The recovered plastic will then be turned into something useful like street furniture, rather than ending up in landfill or becoming part of a toxic plastic soup that does so much harm to our marine environment and ourselves. This will be transformative for the health and resilience of marine ecosystems, habitats and species. local for years to come.

Melanie Hill, Executive Director and Guardian of the ScottishPower Foundation, said: “The importance of protecting our planet is more evident than ever. However, there is still much that needs to be done. The impact of neglected ghost nets is frightening – adding more plastic waste to our seas. It has a horrific effect on marine life.

“It is critical that we help protect our planet now and that is exactly why this project likes the foundation. We are proud to support Keep Britain Tidy and her ocean restoration project to help save our seas, protect marine habitats and protect marine life. I look forward to seeing the recycled plastic pellets put to good use. in communities across the country.”

The ScottishPower Foundation’s funding investment in 2022 sees the charity reach a milestone of £10m in grant funding since its inception in 2013.

Over the years, the Foundation has supported and championed projects across Britain that help advance education, protect the environment, arts, culture and science and provide relief to those in need through poverty, disability or deprivation.

It is planning a series of activities to celebrate the historic funding figure throughout 2022.

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