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LifeGate PlasticLess reaches the UK, the first rubbish bin of the sea installed thanks to Whirlpool
The UK welcomes LifeGate PlasticLess, the innovative project against plastic pollution that has already swept Italy. Portishead receives its first rubbish bin of the sea thanks to Whirlpool.
It isn’t known exactly how long the coast of the United Kingdom is. The main island of Great Britain alone is estimated to have around 18,000 kilometres of coastline, according to the national mapping agency. If the largest of the other islands are also factored in, this increases to over 31,000. Distances that are difficult to visualise but give an indication of how much coastal environments are an integral part of this country’s geography, and therefore society. A nation that, like many others, is experiencing the brunt of the plastic pollution emergency affecting waterways and seas: an average of 5,000 objects of plastic waste have been found in the UK per mile (1.6 kilometres) of beach.
The government has started to mobilise, banning the sale of straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds made with this material starting from 2020, thanks also to pressure mounted by an evermore outraged public. Among the actors also showing their commitment to this cause are companies such as Whirlpool Corporation, world leader in the production of home appliances, the first business in the UK to adhere to the LifeGate PlasticLess® project, which aims to contribute to cleaning seas, waterways and coastlines. The starting point of this collaboration is the installation of the LifeGate Seabin, the device that collects half a tonne of floating waste such as plastics, microplastics and microfibres a year, at the Portishead Quays Marina in Bristol’s historic port, in North Somerset: another first for the UK.
Read more: What is LifeGate PlasticLess®
LifeGate PlasticLess® in the UK thanks to Whirlpool
The company’s British branch follows in the footsteps of the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) one, which has contributed to the installation of 13 LifeGate Seabins along the Italian coastline, including the first in the Marche region, installed last September in the cities of Fano and San Benedetto del Tronto. Each of the “rubbish bins of the sea” is active 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is capable of collecting the equivalent of 90,000 plastic bags or 16,500 one litre plastic bottles a year. LifeGate’s campaign against plastic pollution thus makes its debut in the UK: the aim is for new devices to reach other areas of the country after the first milestone in Portishead.
“We chose north Somerset as our first location as this is close to our industrial site at Yate near Bristol, which has over one hundred years of manufacturing history,” Ian Moverley, UK Public Affairs Director at the Whirlpool Corporation explains. “We’re committed to serving communities where our colleagues work and live,” he adds. Case in point, the inaugural event that took place on the 4th of June saw the participation of Portishead Primary School pupils, already active in a campaign against plastic waste – described by Moverley as a “very keen team of litter pickers”.
Read more: How the LifeGate PlasticLess® Seabin works
The UK’s plastic invasion
Efforts to develop solutions to one of the world’s most urgent environmental crises shouldn’t concern only the students of North Somerset, but all citizens. Plastic use in the UK reached 3.7 million tonnes in 2014 according to the trade organisation Plastics Europe, of which only 38 per cent of packaging was recycled (data for other types of waste isn’t known). Furthermore, like other industrialised nations, the UK sends this type of refuse to Asia to be processed and recycled: according to estimates, it exported 800,000 tonnes a year in 2014, 2015 and 2016. After China’s decision to stop importing such materials, Malaysia also recently announced that it no longer wants to be the world’s “dumping ground” (in the words of Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin) and that it will send back hundreds of tonnes of plastic to the UK, as well as other nations.
A commitment to a cleaner future
It’s clear that the theme of plastic waste is as urgent here as in the rest of the world. Whirlpool Corporation, as well as contributing to reducing coastal pollution by adhering to LifeGate PlasticLess®, has already undertaken concrete initiatives to limit it at the source. Starting from the Yate facility, which has been zero waste to landfill since 2015. The company’s national headquarters in the city of Peterborough are also involved in eradicating single-use plastics completely, for example by providing staff with metal water bottles and compostable cups for hot drinks – therefore saving 360,000 beverage containers from going to landfill each year.
“Thanks to Whirlpool Corporation, we’re on track to achieving important environmental gains, promoting awareness among citizens, and actively engaging in the transition to a PlasticLess future“, Simone Molteni, LifeGate Scientific Director, comments. In this sense, the UK’s first LifeGate Seabin is a sign that the tide is turning in favour of more responsible forms of consumption on the part of a citizenship that wants to see a cleaner version of the water, and especially itself, when it looks at its reflection in the sea.
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