Plasticus, the 10 Metre Plastic Whale, Comes To Bow Boost Marine Litter Awareness

As the UN Environment Assembly meets in Nairobi to discuss the issue of marine litter, campaigners and politicians are more vocal on the damaging build-up of plastic waste in oceans and how the UK's poor recycling rates adds to the problem.

In the budget Chancellor Philip Hammond proposed a tax system of charges to reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste created by packaging in a bid to position Britain as a “world leader in tackling the scourge of plastic, littering our planet and our pollution.” No doubt this will lead to more costs for businesses and estate managers that are not recycling effectively.

The dangers of plastic waste are now well-known: an estimated 12 million tonnes of plastic enter the marine environment each year and residues are routinely found in fish, sea birds and marine mammals. 93 - 236 thousand metric tonnes are estimated by the World Economic Forum to be already in the ocean.

This summer Sky News asked Sian Glover, Bywaters’ Head of Social Inclusion, to provide recycled plastics to build a 10 metre long plastic whale. Sian gave them recovered plastics from beach cleans organized by Bywaters and recycled plastics to build the 250kg sculpture – as this amount represents the amount of plastics going into the oceans every second.

Sian said: “We regularly arrange litter picks along the Thames and on the beaches for our staff and our clients. The plastics we collect joins the 6516 tonnes our Materials Recycling Facility separates out of mixed waste every year, diverting it from landfill, rivers and eventually the oceans. That’s the equivalent of saving 26,000 Plasticus whales from going into the ocean - 500 whales every week! 

Plasticus has travelled around Europe and next week continues its journey to Germany.  Sian concluded: “Plasticus is a clever way of showing people what the consequence of throwing plastic bottles into the river or the sea looks like. Seeing how many plastic bags are used and dumped, plastic bottles thrown away and coffee cups with plastic linings being consumed makes me very conscious of our throw-away lifestyle. As a passionate animal lover and vegetarian, when I saw how plastic debris is killing whales and marine life, it made me determined to use my position in Bywaters to make a change – not just for me and my family, but for my daughter’s generation.”

Bywaters works with customers and staff to educate them about importance of recycling/reuse, and how to reduce the amount of single use plastics. The Bywaters MRF in Bow separates out five types of plastic from the mixed recycling stream, repurposing around 75 million bottles and nearly 184 million plastic bags a year.

Sian concluded: “Plasticus was a clever way of showing people what the consequence of throwing plastic bottles into the river or the sea looks like and we’re delighted to be welcoming him here to Bow.  We’re now keen to explore with Sky News how we can further help them in getting the message out there…”

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