A mountain of plastic waste collected from the Volvo Ocean Race stopover in Cardiff has been collected, recycled, and transformed into benches.
The Volvo Ocean Race is a 45,000 mile yacht race around the world. Using plastic during this event for food and drink is almost unavoidable.
Over 100kg of plastic was collected on board and at the event in Cardiff. RPC bpi Recycling, the largest recycler of polythene in Europe, helped to recycle the plastic into heavy duty 'plaswood' benches.
"We are turning a product that could end up in a landfill into something that's useful to a range of industries contributing to the development of a circular economy," said Sian Miles, general manager of the factory.
The Volvo Ocean Race has pledged to be sustainable in a variety of ways, including calculating the carbon footprint of the entire race and reducing the use of single-use plastics and straws.
"The plastic film is so light and we get strong winds in the harbor area, and it can get blown into the sea and create issues in the marine environment," said Annie Middleton, environment officer for Cardiff Harbor Authority.
Currently, around 12 million tons of plastic end up in oceans each year.
Plastic is often contaminated with other material, so in order to recycle it, factories shred the plastic to remove rocks, sand, and metal. Then, the plastic is washed and shredded again four more times until it is clean enough to be melted down into pellets.
The pellets of plastic are later used to create everything from building materials to park benches.
Millions of tons of UK plastic is exported for processing every year. Some are concerned it could be simply dumbed abroad or burned.
"While we have taken this special focus on soft focus plastic collection and recycling, the problem is that very few events give this material the same attention and tons of soft plastic will be heading to landfill from event sites every day," said Meegan Jones, sustainability program manager at Volvo Ocean Race.
Wales has been named the best region in the UK for recycling. To ensure this continues, Welsh Minister for Environment Hannah Blythyn has approved £7.5 million to help local authorities continue to improve recycling services.
"We want to look at not just the end of the life of products, but how they're made in the first place," said Blythyn. "We want Welsh-based companies to be the ones that are leading the charge on this."
(Video Source: BBC News)