Inspired by research into the sources of marine plastics, a team of our Bristol-based consultants picked up nearly 50kg of litter from a stretch of path near our head office to save it from falling in the river Avon and eventually floating out to sea.
Bristol Waste provided equipment for our volunteers, before Senior Consultant Amy Slack, who organised the event, delivered a health and safety briefing as well as instructions on how material should be separated so any waste that was eligible could be recycled at the end.
A group of sixteen Eunomia consultants worked alongside Bristol Waste representatives to clean-up the path along the river Avon, from Bristol Wood Recycling Centre to Sparke Evans Park. As well as finding a scooter, traffic cone and umbrella, the group collected eleven bin bags of waste in just over an hour, six of which went to be recycled.
This is the start of a bigger project for organiser Amy, whose concern for plastic pollution has led to her embarking on a sabbatical in the Philippines, where she will carry out research and offer waste management support to a not-for-profit organization, Marine Conservation Philippines. Starting the sabbatical in August 2017, Amy decided a River Bank Clean followed by a trip to the pub, was the best way to say ’see you later!’.
“I decided I wanted to do something more ‘grassroots’ in my home city before I head out to the Philippines. Anything falling into the Avon can eventually wash out to the Bristol Channel and then, to the sea. It was great to see so many colleagues putting their environmental credentials into practice and braving the rain.”
Eunomia has completed several studies into the sources and impacts of, and solutions to, marine plastic pollution. Plastics in the Marine Environment a study by the consultancy published in May 2016 showed that 12.2 million tonnes of plastic enter the sea annually, 80% of which comes from land-based sources with the highest concentration of it found on beaches (2,000kg per kilometre square).
Report author and Head of Environmental Policy and Economics at Eunomia Chris Sherrington said:
“As in many aspects of life, prevention is better than cure. We know that effective measures exist that can prevent many plastic items from being littered in the first place. These include deposit return schemes for drinks bottles, as well as charges on single-use items such as take-away cups to encourage the use of reusable alternatives. However, for the plastic that does get into the environment, it’s much more effective, and cost-effective, to pick it up from our local neighbourhood, riverbank or beach, than to try and capture it at sea.”
This is the second collaborative project Eunomia has carried out with Bristol Waste this year, in May 2016 the two organisations worked with Bristol City Council and Bristol Water to install a drinking fountain in city-centre Queen Square. The purpose of the drinking fountain is to discourage thirsty passers-by from purchasing drinks in single-use plastic bottles – a contributing factor to marine plastic pollution – and instead encourage Bristolians to refill re-usable drinks bottles or simply drink directly from the fountain.
Volunteers who took part were also encouraged to enter #SavedFromTheSea a competition Eunomia launched to inspire action against marine plastic. Those who send a picture of what they find on a litter pic are in with a chance of winning one of Swedish outdoor brand Fjällräven’s iconic rucksacks – part of a new range made from recycled plastic bottles – details on how to enter can be found here.
Eunomia will be organising another Bristol based ‘River Bank Clean’ during the Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean Week between September 15th – 18th September 2017 (date to be confirmed).