The Art of Beating Plastic Pollution

19 September 2018 - Published by Debbie Glen
With the help of 300 pupils from Chalkwell Hall Junior School, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is aiming to raise awareness about the issue of plastic pollution and its impacts upon the marine environment.

Until the end of August at The Forum, you can see an exhibition of art work by primary school pupils about plastic pollution and why we must take action to reduce our use of single-use plastic items, such as plastic bottles, shopping bags and straws. 

The exhibition is part of the “Let's Turn the Tide on Plastic!” initiative, which has been introduced at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council to reduce the amount of single use plastic items used by staff. 

This initiative is now being extended to 10 primary schools during the 2018-2019 academic year, thanks to a project run by the council called Energy Challenges.

Energy Challenges will provide funding for the Young People's Trust for the Environment to work directly with pupils and help them understand what action they can take to reduce their use of single use plastic. There will be opportunities for local businesses to support participating schools by sponsoring a litter-picking kit, which will be used by pupils to keep their school grounds, local parks and beaches litter-free. 

Cllr Mark Flewitt, cabinet member for public protection, said: “As a seaside town with seven miles of beaches, our town’s residents, communities and businesses can play a major role in helping to reduce the volume of plastic that enters our oceans.

“I’m delighted to seeing young people learning and engaging in this important topic, as ultimately, how we treat our oceans today will have a direct impact on the condition of the oceans when they are adults.”

During last years' Great British Beach Clean - organised by the Marine Conservation Society - volunteers gathered 255,209 pieces of litter, including 3,540 plastic bottles, 2,674 cans and 11,154 plastic bottle tops from British beaches, finding on average 718 pieces of rubbish for every 100m stretch of beach that was cleaned.


Plastic Facts

  • 80% of plastic debris found in our oceans originates from land-based sources.
  • Almost half of plastic is used just once before it is thrown away.
  • 2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away in the UK every single year, just 1% of these are recycled due to the cup being lined with plastic polyethylene, which makes the cups waterproof and very difficult to recycle.
  • 1 million plastic bottles are purchased around the world every minute, less than half of these bottles are recycled. 
  • Each year 6.4 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans, over 2/3rds of the world's fish stocks are suffering from plastic ingestion. 
  • By 2050, experts fear that there could be more plastic in our oceans than fish. 


Energy Challenges is part of the multi-million pound EU Interreg North Sea funded project 2imprezs, which explores how schools in Southend can take action to reduce their energy consumption by a total of 30%. Part of the programme is engaging directly with pupils on a series of environmental topics, including energy and climate change; plastic and waste; and nature and biodiversity. The project will run until the end of the 2019/2020 academic year and sets the target of helping 20 schools reduce their energy consumption by 30% over that period via a combination of behaviour change and the introduction of energy saving and renewable technologies.