New project to tackle marine litter at Beachwatch Bute

Beachwatch Bute is celebrating 21 years of keeping Bute’s beautiful beaches clean by rolling out a programme of innovative new litter picking benches, thanks to funding from the Co-op Community Fund.

The idea behind these storage benches, is that people will have access to litter pickers and bags to allow them to beach clean at their leisure.  Then, they can sit down, relax, and admire all their hard work.  Filled bags of marine litter can be stored either in the benches or nearby, above the high-water mark on the shoreline.  The Beach Ranger will regularly come along and uplift or can be notified through Facebook that there are filled bags.

Beach Ranger Sandra MacMillan said “How are they new and improved, you ask?   Well let us explain; our first set of benches were plastic garden storage benches, and whilst doing a good enough job, we were never truly satisfied at having to introduce further plastic to the environment… albeit in a positive way.   Over time they deteriorated, and the material became brittle with signs of cracking appearing in recent years.  As a charity driven by our strong desire to protect and improve our beautiful coastline, we therefore set about investigating various sustainable options to replace the existing benches.  We researched wooden ones, either made here on Bute or further afield, however none were truly satisfactory in that they would require considerable upkeep to prevent them decaying in the damp west coast climate that we all love!

It was a chance remark by David Herriot, our Chairman, that led us to Solway Recycling.  The company takes plastic farm waste and turns it into useful products for the agricultural industry, such as hen houses and lambing pens.  They also make garden furniture and equestrian items.  We liked what we saw, and they liked the idea of our benches.  There was nothing available in their existing range of goods so, we set to work on designing something new that we are all immensely proud of and are a credit to them. We hope that others may pick up on our idea.”

What makes the new Litter Storage Benches even more fantastic, is that whilst being robust, comfortable, and quite unique, they offer a maintenance free ‘shelf-life’ of 40+ years, whilst utilising waste farm plastic (some of which probably originates from the farms here on the island) thus reducing what goes to landfill or has to be picked up from the beach. They also allow people to do a bit of beach cleaning when organised beach cleans are not an option although obviously wearing gloves and hand sanitising before and after using equipment is recommended.

Beachwatch Bute is a SCIO and runs a number of fund-raising activities to support its work and Beach Ranger post.  You can find out more by following news and activities on Facebook

Beachwatch Bute is a member of SIF and we are delighted to have its Chair, David, as a SIF Director and a member of our Marine Litter Working Group

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