Home   News   Article

New role as tide of plastic waste rises

By Staff Reporter

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!

North west Sutherland environmental group Plastic@Bay has appointed its first beach ranger after receiving funding from SSE.

Hannah Smith of Plastic At Bay
Hannah Smith of Plastic At Bay

Hannah Smith from Islay, who was looking for a job where she could enjoy the outdoors, moved to Durness in March to take up the position.

She has begun regular weekly patrols of Balnakeil beach and others in the Durness area, cleaning and surveying plastic pollution.

Mrs Smith is also involved in some citizen science projects such as the Big Mircroplastic Survey with the University of Portsmouth and international Pellet Watch with Tokyo University.

Part of her role is to talk with members of the local community and schools about plastic pollution in the area, the work of Plastic@Bay and plastic alternatives.

Plastic@Bay started out in April 2017 by organising annual beach cleans for Surfers Against Sewage.

But the group’s co-founder Joan D’Arcy said: “We quickly realised that this was a job too big to just do once or twice a year.

“We collected data from Balnakeil Beach and found that 1kg of plastic polllution comes onto the beach daily during the summer, increasing up to 5kg per day during winter.

“The work of cleaning is intense and technical with bigger and bigger plastic objects and smaller and smaller microplastics being washed ashore.”

Ms D’Arcy added that projections showed that the rate of plastic pollution was set to double in the next ten years.

She said: “We believe that plastic pollution remediation is a job and cannot rely on fixed date occasional events performed by volunteers only. For this reason, when we applied to SSE Highland Sustainable Development Fund to start a plastic recycling workshop, we included a living wage for a beach ranger to patrol and clean the beaches.”

All plastic pollution is brought back to Plastic@Bay’s recycling workshop, Plastic Lab, at Balnakeil Craft Village, where it is sorted for recycling.

Mrs Smith transports the plastic pollution with the group’s electric quad bike, funded by FLAG (Fisheries Local Action Group Highland and Moray).

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More