Several Clean Coast, Clean Waters projects in British Columbia recently netted 425 tonnes of shoreline waste during summer cleanups.
Items collected under the CleanBC Plastics Action Plan initiative include plastic foam, plastic bottles, nets, rope, abandoned boats and tires. All of these can be recycled and processed in a specialized facility at the Ocean Legacy Foundation, where the marine debris is transformed into pellets that can be used to create new plastic products, packaging, art, and mixed oil fuel.
Building on last year’s cleanup results, the new efforts bring the marine debris collection total to more than 550 tonnes, officials said.
“The Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative is about getting plastic waste and marine debris out of the water and off our shores,” announced George Heyman, B.C.’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, in a statement. “It is also about creating healthier coastal communities by keeping the waste out of our landfills. The work by our partners to reclaim, recycle and reprocess plastics is part of the CleanBC pathway to a healthier environment and a better future for people in our province,” he added.
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Four projects were recently active under Clean Coast, Clean Waters. These included efforts from The Wilderness Tourism Association in partnership with the Small Ship Tour Operators Association, whose 2020 ecotourism season had been cancelled by COVID-19. They received $3.5 million for marine debris cleanup expeditions around B.C.’s central coast. The association employed 180 people for this summer’s cleanup, including 111 tourism industry workers and 69 people from coastal Indigenous communities.
The Coastal Restoration Society also participated in the cleanup, and has been involved in several derelict marine vessel cleanups in B.C. as well. The group recovered more than nine tonnes of plastic floats, two tonnes of recyclable plastic foam, and approximately 14,000 plastic water bottles.
Other participants were the Ocean Legacy Foundation and the Songhees Development Corporation, the latter of which aims to remove up to 100 derelict vessels around Southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.
Nearly $12 million in funding under Clean Coast, Clean Waters was split between the groups.
Three new projects, in partnership with coastal Indigenous Nations, will soon target marine debris along another 1,000 kilometres of B.C. shoreline, including more remote areas in Haida Gwaii and the Discovery Islands.