Through the Ocean Recovery Project, environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy has been on an incredible journey to address the devastation of ghost gear. A big part of the issue around ghost gear, and much of the ocean-found and ocean-bound plastic in the UK, is the inability to effectively recycle it.

Discarded ghost gear, a term given to abandoned or lost fishing gear such as fishing nets, long lines, fish traps and lobster pots, causes vast amounts of damage to our ocean’s delicate ecosystem. According to the World Economic Forum, more than 100,000 whales, dolphins, seals and turtles get caught in ghost gear each year. As well as this devastating statistic, the huge nets, some as big as a football pitch, can take up to 600 years to break down while shedding microplastics into the marine environment, compromising ecosystems, killing marine life and causing habitat damage.

Plastics that wash up on our beaches also pose a risk to wildlife and coastal ecosystems and whilst volunteer and community-led litter picks can help to reduce litter on those coastlines, there is no viable means of recycling it.

Since 2016, the Ocean Recovery Project has worked hard to help develop ways for beach cleaners in our communities to recycle the litter they find. In collaboration with plastic recycling specialists, it has turned plastic bottles into park benches and huge fishing nets into plastic pellets that can then be turned into any number of other useful items.

The FatFace Foundation has proudly donated £40,000 to the Ocean Recovery Project towards the establishment of a new national collection and recycling system for abandoned ghost gear in the UK.