Electric recycled boat sets off for ‘plastic fishing’

UK environmental charity Hubbub announced March 28 that it is launching a new vessel in the battle to clean up plastic from Britain’s polluted waterways.

The boat is powered by a Torqeedo electric motor and is made from 99% recycled plastic and built using funds collected from Starbucks’ 5p charge on drinks purchased in paper cups announced in July 2018.

This is the second year the boat – named Poly Mer in a public contest – will be out cleaning up waterways. From April to June it be taking the public out on ‘plastic fishing’ trips to raise awareness of the growing levels of plastic pollution in UK’s rivers and canals and to encourage more people to recycle their used plastic.

Gavin Ellis, Co-founder and Director of Hubbub said: “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 now looking forward to cleaning up more waterways across the UK and reminding people of the importance of recycling the plastic we use in our everyday lives.

The Queen stands on a long barge with 20 rowers rowing along the River Thames
Royal Rowbarge Gloriana built for The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Photo: Jim Moore

The Poly Mer was designed and built by Master Boatbuilder Mark Edwards of Richmond Bridge Boathouses. He was also in charge of building the Queen’s Royal Rowbarge ‘Gloriana’ and received the MBE (Member of the British Empire) from Her Majesty in 2015 for services to boatbuilding.

The Poly Mer is a little smaller! It holds 12 people and is based on a traditional British flat-bottomed ‘punt’ boat. Mr. Edwards constructed her of Plaswood, a hardwearing alternative to wood that is made entirely from recycled single-use plastic. “It just feels like very solid wood boat” he says. “I was quite amazed, really, that you could turn plastic into something that strong, and really quite elegant”. Plaswood is a sponsor of the initiative.

It’s a fantastic example of the circular economy in action. In the video below Trewin Restorick of Hubbub shows how it works going ‘From Bottle to Boat’ In the video at the bottom of the page that Mr. Edwards goes into detail about building the boat.

Below is the Poly Mer schedule. For more information, visit www.hubbub.org.uk/plastic-fishing-tour

  • April 25 – May 2: Manchester in partnership with Mersey Rivers Trust
  • May 6 – 10: Across Scotland in partnership with Keep Scotland Beautiful
  • May 20 – 29: Bristol in partnership with Sustainable Hive, Bristol Waste Company, Sea Cadets, and Bristol Harbour Authority.
  • June 3 – 9th June: Birmingham in partnership with the Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust

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