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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Fishing net recycling project to reduce plastic pollution

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It will be rolled out to harbours across Scotland

A recycling scheme that’s supports the retrieval of nets from harbours and beaches is being 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 Ocean Recovery Project will be rolled out to harbours across Scotland and the north-east of England to protect marine biodiversity and habitats, which are key in tackling the climate crisis.  

It will address the issue of lost – or ‘ghost’ – fishing nets, which make up around 10% of the plastic waste in our oceans according to research released by Greenpeace. These lost nets can become stuck on coral reefs and the ocean floor, leading to seabed damage and, in some instances, the death of marine species.  

Once lost, the nets continue to catch marine life, with species such as crabs, rays, fish, mammals and even birds getting caught. These then act as bait for larger species like seals, dolphins and whales, which have also been found tangled in the nets. 

The latest report from WWF shows that lost nets are responsible for harming around two-thirds of marine mammal species, half of seabird species and all species of sea turtles – often subjecting them to slow, inhumane deaths. The overall number of species affected by entanglement or ingestion of plastic debris has more than doubled since 1997. 

The Ocean Recovery Project will create a UK-based recycling system that involves the removal of discarded nets and recycles them into plastic pellets.  

During a pilot project, Keep Britain Tidy used marine plastic to make staging for the 2019 Glastonbury Festival’s famous dance arena, Shangri-La. This year, with the help of the funding, the project will be using both rope and net to create recycled outdoor furniture that can be given to schools and other good causes. 

Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said:We are delighted that the ScottishPower Foundation is supporting our ground-breaking Ocean Recovery Project. We have all seen the damage plastic does once it gets in our seas. The ScottishPower Foundation grant will allow us to work with fishing harbours across the UK to recycle used fishing nets as well as supporting beach clean groups in the recycling of nets.  

“The recovered plastic will then be turned into something useful such as street furniture, instead of ending up in landfill or becoming part of the toxic plastic soup that does so much damage to our marine environment and ourselves. This will be transformational for the health and resilience of our marine ecosystems, habitats and native species for years to come.” 

Melanie Hill, executive officer and trustee at the ScottishPower Foundation, said:“The importance of protecting our planet is clearer than ever before; however, much more still needs to be done. The impact of discarded ghost nets is frightening – adding even more plastic waste to our seas and making a horrific impact on marine life.  

“It’s critical that we help protect our planet now and that’s exactly why this project appealed to the Foundation. We’re proud to support Keep Britain Tidy and its Ocean Recovery project to help save our seas, safeguard marine habitats and protect marine life. I’m looking forward to seeing the recycled plastic pellets put to good use in communities across the country.” 

The ScottishPower Foundation's 2022 funding investment sees the charity hit the milestone of £10 million in funding grants it's given out since it was established in 2013. 

Throughout the years, the foundation has supported and championed projects across Britain which help advance education, environmental protection, the arts, culture, science and provide relief for those in need through poverty, disability, or disadvantage. 

It's planning a series of activities to celebrate the landmark funding figure throughout 2022.