VIRIDOR has sponsored 15 beach cleaning trommels which can be used to sift through the sand and remove microplastics from the natural environment.
The company is working with community interest company Nurdle to distribute the trommels to environmental, community and beach clean groups as they clean beaches on a microplastic cleaning tour of the South West.
Dan Cooke, Viridor’s Head of Sustainability, commented on the scheme: “Sponsoring the Nurdle trommels helps us accomplish our goals in terms of practical action to capture and recycle more plastics.
“But we wanted to take that one step further and so we will be taking the beach plastic which is collected to give it a recycling solution.
“The plastic will be used to create fence posts and similar products, which themselves are designed to be recycled when they reach end-of-life.
“We’ll also be working with universities and research partners to explore alternative recycling solutions for these materials.
“Plastic, like the glass, paper and aluminium cans which come through our recycling facilities, should be put back into a circular economy wherever possible.”
The first organisations to receive trommels were Plastic Free North Devon, North Devon AONB and local Eco Schools.
More donations will follow as the events take place on beaches throughout the South West and South Wales.
Viridor MD Phil Piddington said the company was supporting efforts to keep plastic out of the natural environment by giving beach clean groups the tools they need, empowering them to make a real impact beyond the great work already taking place by targeting micro and macroplastics.
Mr Piddington said: “We think the thousands of dedicated volunteers who regularly give up their time to clean up our beautiful beaches need the support of local businesses and the right tools to make the most of their efforts.
“Since we are in the business of recycling and putting the Right Stuff in the Right Bin, this is the kind of community activity that we are proud to support.”
Nurdle has already collected more than 25 million pieces of microplastic, with 2.1 tonnes of sand sieved on a single beach clean and 5,350,000 pieces of plastic removed by one trommel in one clean.
The trommel sponsorship project has given Nurdle the funds it needed complete the prototype of the bigger microplastic collector – The Basking Shark – which has been in development over the last year thanks to crowd funding and other sponsors.
The Basking Shark has the capacity to collect 840 litres of microplastics in one load – this translates to around 16 million pieces of microplastic in one full load.
The Viridor microplastics beach clean sponsorship project was launched last week at Croyde in North Devon, where Nurdle has its base.
Further Viridor-Nurdle beach cleans are planned at Perranporth (Tuesday, 7 April), Bournemouth (Saturday, 18 April), Weston-super-Mare (Friday, 22 May) and Swansea Bay (Saturday, 23 May) when the trommels will be handed over to volunteer groups and the National Trust.
Data collected from the beach cleans will be shared with Plymouth University to support research on microplastics.
Sylvie Verinder, Co-Director at Nurdle, said: “Coastal environments play a major role in capturing and filtering ocean plastic debris.
“A large portion of plastic pollution from the land is likely to return to shore not long after being released.
“We need to capture this before a proportion escapes to offshore waters, fluxes around the coast or gets consumed by local wildlife mistaking it for food.
“Floating plastic is slowly fragmenting as it moves around in coastal environments, and some eventually makes its way to offshore waters.
“Capturing microplastics, as well as macroplastics, on beach cleans, along with ocean clean-ups will make a significant difference to our environment.”