‘Poly-Mer’ – the world’s first recycled plastic boat

The problem with plastic pollution in the oceans and the damaging impact on wildlife is now understood. What many people don’t realise is that 80% of ocean plastic comes from land and travels from our hand via storm-drains and rivers.

Hubbub, an environmental Charity, wanted to find a creative solution to raise awareness of: the value of plastic, the wide variety of functional and durable products that can be made from recycled plastic, as well as the growing levels of plastic pollution in Britain’s waterways by getting young people involved in community recycling activities.

Hubbub decided to build the world’s first ‘plastic fishing’ boat, named Poly-Mer, a 12 seater punt made from 99% recycled plastic - a flagship and a powerful visual marker for the importance of recycling plastic, second life products and the circular economy.

A sustainable partner was found in Plaswood, a division of RPC bpi recycled products. RPC bpi recycled products recycles plastic and turns it into remanufactured products, such as ‘plastic’ lumber known as Plaswood.

Made in the UK from 100% recycled plastic, Plaswood needs no maintenance, is non-absorbing, weatherproof and is a sustainable and cost-effective alternative to using traditional materials such as concrete, steel and wood.

Hubbub collaborated with Buxton Water, the sponsor of the ‘Prudential Ride' cycling event in central London, who agreed to collect 8,000 plastic bottles from the 2018 event. The plastic was sent to RPC bpi recycled products’ dedicated recycling plant in Dumfries, Scotland, where it was washed and shredded in centrifugal tanks before being heated and then extruded so that it can be manipulated into different forms and products – in this instance Plaswood lumber. The Plaswood was sent to boat builder Mark Edwards MBE, commissioned by Hubbub, who previously built the Queen’s royal barge ‘Gloriana’.

Poly-Mer is a creative solution that shows everyone can play their part in tackling the ‘plastic’ issue - it is a visual representation of what can be made from recycled plastic and a unique way of educating people while also helping to clear plastic from London’s Docklands.

Ploy-Mer’s launch resulted in huge media interest with a fanfare of publicity raising public attention around plastic pollution in Britain’s waterways. Therese Coffey, the government environment minister and Paralympic sailor Alexandra Rickham who took part in the maiden voyage at the Isle of Dogs in November 2018 were very supportive and praised the Hubbub team.

Today Poly-Mer runs regular plastic fishing trips in the waters around London’s Docklands, not just for pupils, but for the wider public and businesses interested in taking part in tackling the issue.

In the first 6 months Poly-Mer collected 95 kg of recyclable plastic from the Thameswhich included 762 plastic bottles. 470 people have been plastic fishing and a second boat is currently under construction, using plastic collected by Poly-Mer from the Thames.

The project was a magnet for media coverage, helping to spread the message of the importance of recycling plastic. There have been several YouTube videos and over 120 pieces of coverage, with opportunities to see/hear at 124 million, including TV, Radio and extensive national, local and trade coverage.

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