Waitrose announces recipients of £1m plastic-reduction prize

The supermarket giant’s money will help reduce fishing nets getting lost, use fungus to digest plastic and allow mussels to filter seawater

Waitrose

Waitrose & Partners has announced five companies and organisations with innovative solutions to tackle plastic pollution will receive a share of its £1 million award fund.

The grant money will be given to projects over the next year, after the fund attracted 150 applications.

The winners include Plymouth Marine Laboratory’s Mussel Power scheme, which will see beds or rafts of mussels are deployed in estuaries and coastal sites to filter out microplastics from the water, as well as charity YHA, which will use the funding to install water bottle refill stations in 60 youth hostels across the country.

Plymouth-based Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) will use the money to further develop its SAFEGEAR technology, which aims to stop fishing nets being left or lost in the ocean – it does this by attaching beacons to buoys to make fishing gear visible and trackable, so they can be easily found if lost.

Somerset firm Onion Collective and Biohm will also receive some of the money – they are working together to create a new plastic biorecycling facility in Somerset, that will use mycelium fungus to break down plastic waste and turn it into new products.

Finally, the Women’s Environmental Network’s Environmenstrual Plastic Free Periods initiative aims to bring about widespread behaviour change that reduces plastic pollution from period products and plans to use the grant funding to accelerate progress.

The £1 million fund has been raised from the sale of 5p carrier bags, prior to the retailer recently removing them from its shops.

Tor Harris, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Health and Agriculture, at Waitrose & Partners, said: “It’s important for us to tackle unnecessary plastic both in our shops but also in the wider world.

“All these inspirational projects have the ability to create real impact in tackling environmental issues and encouraging behaviour change so we can collectively achieve our goal of reducing plastic pollution.”

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