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Keep Britain Tidy's Ocean Recovery Project collects a record 1,000+ broken bodyboards
Over the 2021 Summer holiday season, 1,082 snapped plastic bodyboards were recovered from south-west beaches by environmental charity and British Cleaning Council member's Keep Britain Tidy's Ocean Recovery Project. The boards, collected from Croyde Bay, Fistral beach and Bude, are just a small percentage of the boards that go to waste each year.
Working with community groups and beach owners, the coordinated collection has filled an entire shipping container with broken boards. Shockingly, this only scratched the surface of the problem across the region.
"The amount of waste is staggering!" exclaims Neil Hembrow, from Keep Britain Tidy. "A shipping containers' worth of cheap boards was sent 11,000 miles across the globe only to end up as waste for the South West to deal with.
"We could have gathered thousands more if we had more resource and storage space but we don't want to have to do this. We want people to make the right choices and avoid buying these cheap bodyboards. They may be 'cheap' to buy but they are so costly for our environment."
The negative environmental impact of the common polystyrene bodyboard starts with its big carbon footprint - manufactured in southern China and transported to the UK. The poor quality of these bodyboards means that, in many cases, they snap after just a few uses and end up in landfill or incineration. Worse still, when the bodyboards snap, they often unleash thousands of miniature polystyrene 'balls' into the marine environment, posing a direct threat to wildlife.
But there is hope on the horizon thanks to a hire scheme that has been launched by the charity. Keep Britain Tidy aims to tackle the onslaught for Summer 2022 with its '#WaveOfWaste' £1 hire scheme, working with resorts in the South West by supplying them with quality bodyboards to hire to their visitors. The plan is that this will stop demand for the cheap, disposable boards.
The scheme, which was trialled this year with three resorts, has been very popular with guests. The £1 hire charge makes it accessible for everyone and users benefit from a quality board. The boards cost Keep Britain Tidy £30 and are supplied by Zuma Jay surf shop and come with a lifetime guarantee against snapping.
The first resort to join the #WaveOfWaste £1 hire scheme was Wooda Farm Holiday Park near Bude. Owner Charlotte Veale says:
"We are really proud to be a part of Keep Britain Tidy's hire board scheme here at Wooda. It has been an unbelievable success; from the moment it was promoted on our social media platforms, the demand has been amazing!
"Encouraging our customers to hire the boards from us prevents the purchase of polystyrene boards and saves them space when packing their already very full cars.
"With the price being so affordable, it allows customers to try bodyboarding without committing to the purchase of the board, which is great! The funds raised to go Bude Sea Pool, of which we are also very proud to support.
"The hire scheme has been so popular that we are investing in some more boards ourselves for hire next Summer."
As well as resorts, Keep Britain Tidy also introduced the scheme to Bude Sea Pool as a way to raise funds and encourage pool users to steer clear of disposable boards.
Deb Rosser from the Friends of Bude Sea Pool says:
"We initiated our 'BorrowBoard' scheme at the Sea Pool. It's been a massive success and the boards have been in constant use.
"It's a win-win-win scheme that reduces the amount of polystyrene beads from snapped boards entering the sea, raises much-needed funds to keep the historic 1930's-built tidal sea pool free and open, and it's also a win for the safety of body boarders who have to rely on the unfit-for-purpose cheap, snappy bodyboards to keep them afloat.
"Since it started on 24 July a staggering £937.20 has been placed in our BorrowBoard donation bucket."
Neil Hembrow adds: "We want more resorts, holiday parks and accommodation providers to contact us for next Summer. We have ordered quality boards and it's a simple process to set up the hire scheme. We need to stop this planet-polluting product being shipped to end up as waste on our beaches."
This year's mass of broken plastic boards will be stripped back to their individual plastic elements and recycled in the South West. The polystyrene is processed into packaging and insulation blocks at SWM recycling in North Devon and many of the plastic covers will be granulated and made into picnic benches by Devon Contract Waste in Exeter.
4th November 2021