Ocean Plastic Gifts
The gift we offer is removal & destruction of ocean plastic: No added trinkets or keepsakes just a chance for you to help the oceans.
For the ethical or ecological consumer we would consider it to be a very efficient (in terms of embodied CO2) and effective ecological & ethical gift.
This spotlight site sponsored and created by Southwest Environmental Limited.
Image rights: Andy Waddington / Sea washed plastic debris, Camus Daraich / CC BY-SA 2.0
Plastic pollution in oceans and seas is such a massive, accelerating, and persistent problem, that it needs a very clinical response. Not only in the way that the plastic is collected and disposed of, but the paper trail and transparency that must go alongside the process.
Not only do we aim to remove plastic from the ocean and destroy it, but we intend to document the process and provide the buyer with a thorough paper trail, to show their contribution. Key Facts:
Who: 10 year established Environmental Consultancy Firm, with a track record of successful waste management projects. All work overseen by Environmental Scientists (MIEnvSc).
What: Waste marine plastic removed from beaches.
Where: Remote coastal locations in England, Scotland and / or Northern Ireland
When: Within 3 months of certificate purchase.
Why: Because our oceans are becoming irreversibly degraded, via macro, meso, micro and nano plastics.
Purchase will result in a short report being delivered that demonstrates to our buyer exactly what they are paying for. In no less than 3 months a buyer will receive, a certificate containing:
Unique order number.
Photographs of the plastic they have removed (pile of bottles, section of fishing net, coil of rope). If the plastic item is very large (plastic tank for example) you may share it with others (order numbers of others will be listed).
Grid reference of location.
Link to project page with photos of removal operation with before and after pictures.
Details of transport.
Details of waste disposal companies used. Disposal is via incineration.
The Contentious Bit
How do you dispose of these plastics once they are collected? This is perhaps the most contentious problem.
There are truly huge quantities of plastic being injected into the world's oceans, every year. Plastic retrieved is dirty and much is of low value (although fishing nets are very high grade plastic). Removed plastic will require washing, grinding and pelletizing, prior to use. This can result in a 5% to 11% saving in manufacturing CO2 emissions, when compared to virgin polymer plastics.
Meanwhile throughout the year we are burning gas, to run our power network baseload, contributing to global warming, which is directly linked to ocean acidification.
Why not use the plastic the generate electricity instead? The CO2 is still released, but provided we use an incinerator with energy from waste functions, we are reducing our gas consumption, whilst taking the plastic waste out of the system permanently. The Natural History Museum (London), acknowledges that incineration may be only option for destruction of ocean plastic.
So in summary we propose a clinical solution to the pervasive problem of plastic waste, we utterly destroy it so it can't find it ways back into the oceans. As we have indicated above this destruction process is documented, and all documentation is provided for gift certificate buyer's inspection.
If you are concerned about "smoke" from incinerating plastic waste, then that is a worthy concern, however in UK, incinerators are very very tightly regulated. Not only are exhaust combustion gases from incinerators extremely well filtered and cleaned, but they are continuously monitored to check that the filters are working. There are also other sources of pollution that are many times worse, that we seem not to worry about! So in summary:
Recycling assumes a demand for the plastics we are collecting. Often there is no demand.
Out of disposal options we can burn or bury.
Incineration permanently removes plastic from cycle.
Incineration at Energy from Waste Plant generates electricity, and or heat.
Modern UK incinerators are very very clean running.
The high cost of our gift is due to the fact that it is entirely UK based. We need to pay UK labour rates, UK boat hire rates, UK transport rates, and UK incineration rates.
With all environmental benefits the traceability and transparency of the record keeping is the most valuable part. Have you ever stayed in a hotel where they ask you to donate £5 to "their" tree planting program? What do you know about the Trees: Where, Who, What, When and How. You will likely not be told any of this information.
Where to Buy
Trouble with Trinkets
Typically an ocean plastic gift will be a "trinket" such as a bracelet, or a textile item made wholly or in part from Ocean Plastic. So gifts are made from just 1% ocean plastic.
Some might find the thought of buying extra plastic items an illogical way of dealing with a problem that is caused by too much plastic.
Providing an item, to symbolise the removal of plastic is a canny move, as it plays to the materialistic side of human psychology. We would consider that providing a "trinket" detracts from the main cause, which is removal of plastic from oceans.
If you donate £20 to remove ocean plastic, why waste energy and resources on manufacturing and transporting "trinkets"? Because "trinkets" are nice . . . well we can't argue with that. They are.
But! If you would like to do the most good, then manufacturing, packaging and whizzing around in delivery vans delivering trinkets is not part of the solution.
If you choose to buy a certificate you are supporting a very good thing. Our first planned project is in Scotland, in the Western Isles in March 2021. Where we hope to clean (to the best of our ability) a 4 mile stretch of coastline of industrial and consumer plastic waste. Some of it is very large and unsightly and, we can't wait to get stuck in on your behalf.