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Ports take action on marine plastic waste

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Dry Bulk,

To mark the environment day of London International Shipping Week, ports are sharing some of the huge range of things they’re doing to combat plastic waste entering rivers and seas.

The scourge of plastic waste entering rivers and seas is rightly a top concern for the public and policy makers. Businesses and consumers alike have a duty to act and change our behaviours. The UK’s ports, although not significant producers of plastic waste themselves, recognise they have a role to play and are taking action.

Ports are busy working on land and in the water to reduce plastic waste across a wide range of activities, both large and small. Examples include:

  • Joining national campaigns such as Operation Clean Sweep, focused on preventing plastic pellet loss to the marine environment.
  • Working with others locally, both through local campaigns such as the Port of London Authorities’ Cleaner Thames Campaign and working in partnership with local NGOs such as Plastic Free Felixstowe.
  • Investing in equipment to capture waste in the water such as Water Witches, Seabins and networks of driftwood and floating waste collectors.
  • Reducing and removing single use plastics as part of company procurement decisions in areas such as work wear and consumables.
  • Getting everyone involved through organising and supporting beach and shore cleans, handing out reusable cups and bottles and using milk bottles for teas and coffees.

Ports commitment to reducing marine plastic waste does not end with prevention and collection. A number of port operators have full lifecycle initiatives, such as returning collected plastic waste to manufacturers to remake into shampoo bottles. And their efforts to reduce waste are not limited to plastics. Ports have strategies and plans to combat waste more generally, making progress on targets to reduce waste to landfill.

Tim Morris, CEO of the UK Major Ports Group, said: “Major port operators are committed to high sustainability standards. Ports all around the UK are taking a huge range of practical actions to combat the scourge of plastic waste entering rivers and seas. We all have a role in reducing plastic waste and ports, despite not being significant producers of plastic waste themselves, are playing their part.”

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