Poly Roger makes a splash to set sail for Source to Sea Week

This week we have launched our tour of Central Scotland's canals, alongside the plastic fishing punt created by environmental charity Hubbub.

As part of Spring Clean 19, we are holding a Source to Sea Week, encouraging everyone to get out to clean their local canal or riverside.

Operated and supported by Scottish Canals, the 'Poly Roger' began its journey at the Falkirk Wheel, heading west to Dalmuir Drop Lock. 

The boat will take local people out on ‘plastic fishing’ trips to raise awareness of the growing levels of plastic pollution in Scottish rivers and canals and to encourage more people to recycle their used plastic.  

On its first official voyage at the Falkirk Wheel, the plastic fishers collected more than seven tubs of litter from the canal, including 114 bottles and several balls - even a broken fishing rod!

The boat has been built from plastic collected on previous plastic fishing trips, with plans to build a litter-busting fleet across the UK - a fantastic example of the circular economy in action. Scottish Canals will be supporting the delivery of the plastic fishing trips and will also be organising paddle pick-ups along the route to target litter in the canal.

Meanwhile, McDonald's are supporting the tour by hosting canalside litter picks, with dozens of staff helping to stop litter getting from canals into the sea. Anyone interested in seeing the Poly Roger or getting involved in a canal Clean Up can come along to the following events:

● Monday 6th May 10am – Bridge 8 Hub Wester Hailes

● Tuesday 7th May 10am - Falkirk Wheel

● Wednesday 8th May 10am – Kirkintilloch Marina

● Thursday 9th May 10am – Ruchill Church

● Friday 10th May 10am – Dalmuir Drop Lock

● Friday 10th May 12pm – Bowling Beach

The plastic fishing initiative has come from Hubbub and has been built using funds collected from Starbucks’ 5p charge on drinks purchased in a paper cup across its 950 stores nationwide. It’s only the third boat of its kind in the world and the first to launch outside of London. The craftsman tasked with building the boat was expert boat-builder Mark Edwards MBE, who also built the Queen’s barge ‘Gloriana’. The design is based on a traditional punt, but it’s made from the most modern of materials - Plaswood, a hardwearing alternative to wood that is made entirely from recycled single-use plastic - and it’s powered by a rechargeable electric motor making it the most sustainable of boats.

The Poly Roger started its tour in Manchester at the end of April and following its visit to central Scotland it will continue on to Birmingham and Bristol. In each location Hubbub is partnering with local organisations and volunteers, who nominated their area to take part in the Plastic Fishing Tour as part of a competition with the Daily Mirror to raise awareness of the issue of plastic pollution across UK waterways. One of the four areas will ultimately be chosen to keep the boat on a permanent basis.

Gavin Ellis, Co-founder and Director of Hubbub, said: “The pictures we’ve received from all over the country have shown how widespread the problem of plastic pollution is and it’s clear there is a strong desire from the public to help keep their local areas clean and safe for wildlife. We’ve seen the difference that plastic fishing has made in London, where we’ve taken 1,415 people out on trips and collected 162 kg from the London Docklands.  We’re really looking forward to visiting Scotland as part of our Plastic Fishing Tour which will help clean-up local waterways also remind people of the importance of recycling the plastic we use in our everyday lives.”

Jaz Rabadia, UK senior manager of energy and sustainability, Starbucks Europe Middle East and Africa, said: “As a business we are continually looking at ways in which we can help to shrink our environmental footprint - whether that’s in the way we operate or by helping our customers to make more sustainable choices.

“We know we have a responsibility to help protect the planet and that’s why we’re so pleased to be able to continue to support Hubbub, and initiatives including the Plastic Fishing Tour. We look forward to seeing what happens as the boat travels to each city and helps communities clean up their local waterways.”

Derek Robertson, Chief Executive said:

“Our research shows that litter levels in Scotland are at their worst in a decade and clearly shows that people across Scotland are deeply concerned by the amount of litter finding its way from land into our rivers and oceans, and now is the time to take action.

“We are delighted to be working with Hubbub and Scottish Canals to host the Plastic Fishing Punt on its tour as part of our focus on litter from source to sea during spring clean 2019.  With more than 20,000 people taking part in spring clean events across Scotland during April and May there is still time to get involved and clean up our county.”

Dr Olivia Lassiere, Environment Manager at Scottish Canals, said: “We’re delighted to be teaming up with Keep Scotland Beautiful and Hubbub for this innovative project.

“Littering and fly tipping can be a real issue on Scotland’s canals, particularly in urban areas. Last year our staff and hundreds of volunteers collected more than a tonne of litter from the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals alone.

“By launching the Poly Roger’s tour of Scotland’s canals at The Falkirk Wheel, the world’s only rotating boat lift, we hope we can kick-start a recycling revolution. I’d encourage everyone to get involved and help us care for the incredible environments of the nation’s waterways.”

08 May 2019

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