Boat made from 99% recycled plastic to tackle waste along London's waterways

A boat made from recycled plastic waste will take its maiden voyage from London's Canary Wharf Docks today (2 November) as part of an awareness raising campaign about the rising levels of plastic pollution in British waterways.

Hubbub claims that Poly-Mer is the world’s first boat made from 99% recycled plastic waste

Hubbub claims that Poly-Mer is the world’s first boat made from 99% recycled plastic waste

The 12-seater punt, named Poly-Mer, is made from ‘Plaswood’, a material which consists of 100% plastic waste. Designed by environmental campaign group Hubbub, the vessel will be used for 'plastic fishing' trips to remove litter from the Docks, with the collected recyclable material used to build similar boats across the UK.

Hubbub chief executive Trewin Restorick wants to promote public awareness around the fact that 80% of ocean plastic originates from land-based sources.  

“We built the ‘Poly-Mer’ to turn part of the problem into a solution and hope it will raise awareness that everyone can play their part to tackle plastic litter closer to home before it travels out to the ocean,” Restorick said. “We’d love to hear from people in other areas of the UK who are interested in getting involved with plastic fishing as we expand the fleet.”

'Creative solution'

Poly-Mer was made by boat builder Mark Edwards MBE, who previously constructed the Queen’s barge Gloriana, and is being supported by Sky Ocean Rescue.

The campaign has received support from school children at the nearby Canary Wharf College, who have helped to collect plastic rubbish from the Docks. The students will board the boat for its first trip from the Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre, along with Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey.

“This is an excellent and creative solution that demonstrates the damaging effect littering and plastics can have on our environment and wildlife,” Coffey said.

The Minister highlighted that the Government has taken steps to tackle plastic waste through proposals for a ban on plastic microbeads from cosmetics products along with its 5p carrier bag charge. Defra has also confirmed it will work with businesses to see how a drinks container deposit return scheme could work in England.

The Poly-Mer follows a similar innovation from carpet tile manufacturer Interface, which has designed and created a unique boat made from more than 7,000 plastic bottles fished from the canals of Amsterdam.

Ocean rescue

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has predicted there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean (by weight) by 2050.

There have been numerous business efforts to tackle the issue in recent times. Just last week, Ecover launched a limited-edition washing-up liquid bottle made from 50% ocean plastic, as the cleaning products firm outlined a vision to use 100% recycled plastic in all bottles by 2020.

Sky’s latest CSR report noted that more than five million people have actively engaged with its Ocean Rescue scheme since its January 2017 launch. The broadcaster has announced that all single-use plastics will be removed from its products, operations and supply chain by 2020 and will also invest £25m into an Ocean Rescue Innovation Fund to develop remedies to the amount of waste seeping into oceans.

Earlier this year, computer firm Dell achieved a new first for the technology industry, after converting waste plastic found on beaches and in waterways into new packaging for one of its laptop products.

George Ogleby


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Waste & resource management
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