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Plastic scourge at scenic beach

By Mike Merritt

AN environmentalist has expressed dismay at the latest item of plastic to be found during a clean-up of one of Sutherland's most scenic beaches.

An 18-year-old plastic insulin container was discovered in top condition at beautiful Balnakeil Beach in Durness.

The still readable label on the side of the container states that the insulin shot expired in 2001.

Sutherland-based PlasticAtBay, which celebrated its first anniversary in June, carried out the beach clean this month.

It is now using the find to highlight just how long plastic remains in the marine environment.

Dr Julien Moreau of the group, said:"It looks new to me at almost 20 years old. It’s scary stuff.”

Geophsyicist Dr Moreau is heading a new green initiative.

Plastic washed ashore is to be turned from an environmental scourge into an eco-business following a £65,000 grant from SSE's Sustainable Development Fund for a unique marine recycling centre - believed to be the first of its type in Scotland.

The Marine Plastic Recycling Centre will be based in Durness.

The cash has been given to Plastic@Bay, who have recruited a ranger, and hope to have the operation up and running before next summer.

“The aim of our project is to develop a recycling centre in Durness where marine plastic pollution washed up on local beaches are recycled into useful objects for resale,” said Dr Moreau.

The group's total plastic haul last year, which weighed a staggering 5000lbs, included rubbish which had even originated from Russia and Canada and a plastic Mexico World Cup lighter from 1986 which had been made in France.

PlasticAtBay is a non-profit company which aims to fight the growing problem of waste plastics polluting the sea and beaches along the north west Highlands. The group recently purchased a quad bike and trailer.

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