From technology that tags fishing nets to plastic-eating fungi: Waitrose & Partners has revealed the projects it will be supporting with its unique £1 million grant fund designed to tackle plastic pollution.
Plan Plastic - The Million Pound Challenge will award money, over one year, to projects that can demonstrate an impact to reduce plastic. Working with environmental charity Hubbub, the fund attracted 150 applications, and five organisations have now been selected to receive a share of the £1 million fund. The diverse group of winners, from marine scientists to pioneering charities, all demonstrated innovation in tackling plastic pollution.
Plan Plastic - The Million Pound Challenge - grant winners:
Blue Marine Foundation: SAFEGEAR (Plymouth, Devon)
Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) has developed a pioneering initiative called SAFEGEAR that aims to stop ghost fishing gear (fishing nets that have been left or lost in the ocean) at source by attaching beacons to buoys to make fishing gear visible. SAFEGEAR allows fishing vessels to inexpensively monitor their gear at sea, receive alerts if their gear starts to move, and contact vessels in the proximity. If gear is lost due to towing, or bad weather, the beacon allows the fishing vessel to track the gear and recover it.
Onion Collective CIC and Biohm: Community Bio-Recycling (Watchet, Somerset)
Onion Collective and Biohm are working together to create a new plastic biorecycling facility in Somerset, that will use mycelium (a vegetative part of a fungus or fungus-like bacteria) to break down synthetic plastic waste and turn it into new products - for environmental, social and economic benefit. This process will entirely eliminate petrochemical plastic while demonstrating a new way of doing business.
Women's Environmental Network (WEN): Environmenstrual Plastic Free Periods (UK wide)
The environmenstrual campaign ‘Plastic-Free Periods’ aims to bring about a UK revolution in education about health-conscious, environmentally-friendly menstrual products. This is a collaborative project between Women’s Environmental Network (WEN) and City to Sea aiming to bring about widespread behaviour change that reduces plastic pollution from period products.
Plymouth Marine Laboratory: Mussel Power (Plymouth, Devon)
‘Removing Marine Microplastics with Mussel Power’ aims to develop an ecological solution to microplastic pollution whereby beds or rafts of mussels are deployed in estuaries and coastal sites to filter out microplastics from the water. The project will help determine whether these ‘bioreefs’ will work in the fight against plastic waste.
YHA (England & Wales): Message in a Bottle (England and Wales wide)
YHA is a leading charity focused on improving young people’s health, wellbeing and life chances. Its simple but high impact project will see water bottle refill stations installed in 60 major youth hostels across England and Wales, eradicating the use of single use plastic bottles from packed lunches, cafes, bars and vending machines.
The £1 million fund has been raised from the sale of 5p carrier bags, prior to the retailer recently removing them from its shops. The fund will be split between the five winners who will receive funding between £150,000 and £300,000.
Tor Harris, Head of CSR, Health & Agriculture, Waitrose & Partners, said:
“It’s important for us to tackle unnecessary plastic both in our shops but also in the wider world. All these inspirational projects have the ability to create real impact in tackling environmental issues and encouraging behaviour change so we can collectively achieve our goal of reducing plastic pollution.”
The winners were chosen by an expert panel made up of representatives from academia, industry, non-governmental organisations and business. 150 groups applied for the fund, eight were selected to present to the panel, five organisations have been awarded grants.
For more information about the winners and the fund, please visit: www.planplasticfund.com
Waitrose & Partners is passionate about reducing its impact on the environment and the amount of plastic waste it creates. The retailer has removed all 5p plastic bags from its shops and is replacing loose fruit and vegetable bags with a home compostable alternative.
Waitrose & Partners has also pledged not to sell any own-label products in black plastic packaging beyond 2019 and has already hit its target to remove black plastic on its fresh meat, fish, poultry, fruit and veg. Waitrose is committed to making all its own-label packaging widely recyclable, reusable or home compostable by 2023.