Cardiff races to turn the tide on plastic

In less than 60 days the world's most prestigious sailing series will arrive in Cardiff and for the first time in the history of the race, it will make a 15 day stopover in the Welsh capital.

With marine plastic pollution being a main focus of the Volvo Ocean Race, Cardiff will showcase several innovative projects which demonstrate our commitment to highlighting incorrect waste disposal in our oceans.

Cardiff Harbour Authority (CHA) collect an average of 430 tonnes of rubbish and natural debris from the waters of Cardiff Bay each year, including plastics. Some of the items retrieved by the Harbourmaster and environment team are being reused and recycled by local carpenter, Gareth Davies, who previously created the Bay Eco Lounge. Gareth has now been commissioned to develop a classroom environment which will be used during Volvo Ocean Race as an educational space, situated on the event site for the duration of the stopover.

Made entirely from discarded rubbish and waste debris, the project will use plastics, timber, pontoon decking, buoys, tyres and rope to produce high-quality, unique pieces of furniture.

The Volvo Ocean Race event site will aim to be a single-use plastic free zone whilst here in Cardiff. The race village will only use compostable containers, which can be disposed of with food waste, and the bar will feature a deposit system, enabling the public to buy a branded glass with their first drink, and then reuse it and take it home.

There will be water refill stations available for public use and staff and companies involved in the event will be well informed about the guidelines for disposing of waste correctly. The key message is to reduce, reuse and recycle.

In partnership with Cardiff Council, Cardiff Rivers Group have been running a series of volunteer days to tackle the problem of plastics in our local water.Hamadryad Park saw 40 volunteers clear 54 bags of plastic, eight cones and three road barriers as well as 44 bags of rubbish, a shed, gas bottle, two Christmas trees and a toy owl.

Some of the plastics collected will be recycled into musical instruments to be used for ‘Under the Bridge', a CHA community project which aims to encourage young people from the local area to take part in urban activity workshops during the Easter holidays. CHA and the Council are also working in collaboration with Keep Wales Tidy and TerraCycle on a beach plastic recycling programme.

Cardiff Council Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Cllr Peter Bradbury said: "The issue of marine plastic pollution is becoming more and more apparent and it is commendable that Volvo Ocean Race are using the event's international platform to highlight the scale of the problem.

"We have an excellent team at Cardiff Harbour Authority who are faced with the ongoing, enormous task of ensuring Cardiff Bay is kept free of rubbish and debris, which is often deliberatelydumped in our waters. This task is complemented by the hard work and commitment of volunteer groups, such as Cardiff Rivers Group, who tirelessly assist in collecting waste which ruins the shores and surrounding areas.

"Cardiff is committed to highlighting this growing problem and these latest recycling projects will contribute to getting the message out there and hopefully discourage people from using the Bay for incorrect waste disposal in the future."

Louise Tambini, Operations Director at Keep Wales Tidy, said:"All the publicity about marine plastic has really helpedto raise awareness of the issue, and we are delighted that more and more volunteers are joining us as we tackle litter in Cardiff's watercourses. We have made a huge difference today, and hope to inspire lots more volunteers to join in activities in the future. We are extremely proud of our city and excited to invite visitors from across the world as part of the Volvo Ocean Race. Cardiff Rivers Group will be doing our bit to rid our shores of litter and working in partnership with Cardiff Council to ensure the city looks its best".