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93 Tonnes of ‘Ghost’ fishing nets recycled in pioneering project


Over 90 tonnes of marine life-harming materials have been recycled thanks to a ground-breaking project funded by the ScottishPower Foundation.


Keep Britain Tidy’s ‘Ocean Recovery Project’ supports the recycling of materials collected from harbours, beaches and the wider marine environment. The project works with the fishing industry, local authorities, businesses and beach clean volunteers to collect plastics as well as supporting divers who recover material from the seabed.

‘Ghost nets’, in particular can cause long term damage to our ocean species. The nets continue to catch marine life (ghost fishing), with crabs, rays, fish, mammals and even birds getting caught. These then act as bait for larger species, including seals, dolphins and whales, which have also been found tangled in the nets.

Working with multiple partners, the project proactively intercepts material at harbours alongside collecting nets and other plastics from the beach. These are then sorted, processed and recycled into plastic pellets that are used to produce an array of products from footwear to furniture and insulation blocks.

Grant funding was awarded by the ScottishPower Foundation in September 2022 to expand the successful pilot of Keep Britain Tidy’s Ocean Recovery Project in Southwest England, with nine harbours now part of the recycling network, from the Scottish islands to the south coast of Devon. Through collaboration with multiple organisations, material has been collected from beaches, the seabed, harbours and the wider fishing community.

The project this year has seen 93 tonnes – equivalent to the weight of more than 90 family cars – of fishing net and rope being successfully recycled.

Neil Hembrow, Ocean Recovery Project manager at Keep Britain Tidy, said:

“Plastic pollution is a threat to our oceans and to marine life that calls them home. The Ocean Recovery Project tackles this threat by intercepting and recovering these plastics and then turning them into something useful.

“As well as supporting regular recycling from harbours across the UK, the project has assisted harbours in Northern Ireland for the first time to fully process nets to recycled pellet in the UK, and the Scottish Islands to participate in recycling nets from their remote and beautiful beaches. We are pleased to have supported so many organisations across such a wide area.

“The recycled plastic and demand for pellets has led to the creation of new products, instead of them ending up in landfill or the toxic plastic soup that does so much harm to the environment around us.”                       

“The support from the ScottishPower Foundation has been instrumental in establishing a robust system that can be sustained and expanded even further across the country.”


Melanie Hill, Executive Officer and Trustee at the ScottishPower Foundation, said: “Supporting projects that help improve the environment is a key objective of the ScottishPower Foundation so I’m proud that the Ocean Recovery Project has been able to do so much to reduce the impact of discarded ghost nets that can have such a devastating impact on marine life.

“We’re proud to have been able to help kickstart such a transformational project that’s helping to safeguard marine habitats now and well into the future.”

The ScottishPower Foundation has provided over £10 million in funding grants to charitable projects since it was established in 2013. 

Throughout the last decade, the Foundation has supported and championed projects across Britain which help advance education, environmental protection, the arts, culture, science and provide relief for those in need through poverty, disability, or disadvantage.

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