#OceanRescue: Sky drives engagement on ocean plastic waste through new social campaign

Broadcasting company Sky has turned to social media to increase awareness of the "major challenge" of plastic waste in the oceans, using celebrities and behaviour change tips as levers to inspire and educate consumers.

Built on the shocking statistic that plastic now accounts for 95% of the rubbish in our oceans, Sky launched its Ocean Rescue digital campaign last week, alongside a 45-minute documentary which has been aired across the company’s TV channels.

The firm used its Sky News outlet to place a particular focus on important ocean plastic waste reports published by the likes of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and has been offering tips and advice for consumers to alleviate the issue through dedictaed Twitter and Facebook accounts.

“It will be a major challenge to put the legacy of pollution we are passing on into reverse, but we owe it to our children and future generations to acknowledge the problem and change our behaviour,” Sky News head John Ryley said.

“I am delighted to be able to announce the launch of the Sky Ocean Rescue project, and two days of coverage on the subject on Sky News and all its platforms. It continues our commitment to try to protect the environment that we began with Rainforest Rescue in 2009 that saved one billion trees in the Amazon rainforest.”

Educational tips offered by Sky through the campaign include ignoring single-use plastic carrier bags in favour of purchasing re-usable bags. The company has also itself agreed to an in-house crackdown on plastic bags and bottles. The Ocean Rescue campaign cites some shocking figures, including the fact that the number of plastic bottles washing up on UK beaches rose 43% between 2014 and 2015. Only half of plastic bottles are currently collected for recycling, the campaign notes, despite 35 million being sold in the UK every day.

In its ‘A Plastic Tide’ documentary which aired last week, Sky also showcased new data gathered by environmental charity Thames21 and Tideway, which found that 75% of the plastic waste found on the River Thames foreshore was packaging rather than actual products. Under the Thames River Watch project, the two organisations conducted 56 detailed litter survey across areas of the river.

Celebrities have also been enlisted in the Ocean Rescue campaign in order to create more personal and persuasive reasons to change behaviour. Sir Richard Branson, Ben Fogle, astronaut Tim Peake and Sir Ben Ainslie are among those that appeared in vignettes during a special Sky News report last week.

Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign follows on from its successful Rainforest Rescue project, which involved a range of zero-deforestation initiatives and themed TV programmes, and raised more than £9m to help keep a billion trees standing in the Amazon.

Closing loops

The private sector’s attempts to combat rising plastic ocean waste has been delivered through a range of initiatives, from basic cutbacks to innovative new products.

London retailer Selfridges, for example, stopped the sale of single-use plastic water bottles in its shops, while designer clothing company G-Star RAW joined forces with marine pollution campaign group the Plastic Soup Foundation in an effort to prevent microfibres from entering into oceans. During an exclusive interview with edie, the Plastic Soup Foundation claimed that policy alignment was a critical step to creating a plastic circular economy “without leakage”.

One such closed-loop model belongs to Adidas, which looks set to push around 7,000 pairs of trainers made from 95% ocean plastic into the market. The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G), meanwhile, announced earlier this month that it will be mass-producing the world’s first recyclable shampoo bottle made from up to 25% post-consumer recycled (PCR) beach plastic.

[<a href=”//storify.com/edie/sky-s-oceanrescue-campaign” target=”_blank”>View the story “Sky’s #OceanRescue Campaign” on Storify</a>]

edie’s engagement month

The month of February sees edie shift the editorial spotlight to engagement, with a series of exclusive interviews, features and podcasts running throughout the month to drill down on the best way to bring the people you want on the journey with you.

From consumers to clients, investors to employees, ensuring your key stakeholders are on board and engaged can mean the difference between success and failure. edie’s engagement month will explore some of the most effective methods being used to drive positive behaviour change.

Read all of edie’s engagement content here.

Matt Mace

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie