On Tuesday 13 July a new vessel in the battle to clean up plastic pollution in Britain’s waterways – ‘Seacycler’ – was unveiled in Bristol. Launched by environmental charity Hubbub, the 12-seater punt is made from 99% recycled plastic and will be permanently based in Bristol Harbour, a beautiful area spanning 83 acres that attracts many visitors each year but also considerable amounts of litter.
Funded equally by Bunzl and Danone UK & Ireland, Seacycler has been donated to award-winning education consultants Sustainable Hive. The boat will take local people out on ‘plastic fishing’ trips to raise awareness of the growing levels of plastic pollution in Bristol’s waterways and to educate local schoolchildren and businesses about the impact of litter on the environment and the value of recycling plastic.
Seacycler is made from single-use plastic and is only the sixth of its kind in the world. The craftsman tasked with building the boat is 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. This hardwearing alternative to wood is made entirely from recycled plastic, some of which was repurposed from packaging recycled by employees at Danone’s UK offices. The vessel is powered by a rechargeable electric motor, making it the most sustainable of boats.
The Lord Mayor of Bristol officially launched the boat and took part in its maiden voyage, departing the harbour near Underfall Yard.
Following its launch, Seacycler will be moored at Young Bristol pontoon where plastic fishing trips will set off from. With each trip, the boat will help remove more plastic debris from Bristol Harbour, which will then be recycled and go towards making further boats with the same aim – a fantastic example of the circular economy in action.
The first punt made from recycled plastic, the Poly-Mer, was launched in London in 2017 and so far has taken 2,700 people plastic fishing, collecting 2,819 plastic bottles from the Docklands to be used to build more recycled plastic boats.
In 2019, Hubbub launched the plastic fishing tour which included a week-long visit to Bristol. 1,649 people went Plastic Fishing over the course of the year and 90% of volunteers pledged not to use a plastic bottle for a month after their experience.
Gavin Ellis, Co-founder and Director of Hubbub, said: “While we have woken up to the problem of plastic pollution in our waterways, our canals, rivers and harbours continue to be filled with plastic litter which breaks down and is very harmful to wildlife.
“By involving local schools and businesses in a fun and engaging way, the plastic fishing trips on Seacycler will not only help clean-up the harbour and reduce the impact of litter on wildlife, but it also demonstrates that plastic has a value and can be turned into something useful.”
Clare Marshall, Director, Sustainable Hive, said: “The young people in Bristol are eager to make a difference to the litter in our waterways; they want to lead by example, be proactive and highlight the problem to others. Seacycler will enable us to work with this trailblazing crew to not only help keep Bristol Harbour clean but to also inspire other generations to do the same. Seacycler is exactly what we want to champion; education that is fun, thought-provoking and delivers change.”
Richard Hall, VP of General Secretary, Danone UK and Ireland said: “We’ve worked with Hubbub on lots of innovative initiatives and this boat holds a special place for us, as our colleagues recycled some of the packaging from our offices to help create it. The boat offers a fun and hands-on opportunity to help engage people with the power of the circular economy, the importance of recycling and ensuring no plastic ends up as waste in nature. Plastic in the environment is a huge problem and brands must be part of the solution. Danone is firmly committed to the responsible use of plastic – ensuring all our packaging is recyclable whilst increasing the use of recycled content and supporting government and community recycling initiatives.”
James Pitcher, Head of Sustainability at Bunzl plc said, “We know communities around the country want to find ways to protect our environment and make better use of natural resources. Seacycler will not only provide young people in Bristol with the opportunity to learn about some of the challenges we face, but also give them the opportunity to play their part and help keep our waterways clean. That’s why we’re delighted to be supporting this engaging initiative.”