Boat made from plastic waste tours Scotland to tackle plastic pollution in country’s canals and waterways

Today (7th May 2019) a new vessel in the battle to clean up plastic pollution in Britain’s waterways will start a week-long tour of Scotland’s canals. Created by environmental charity Hubbub, the 12-seater punt is made from 99% recycled plastic and will form a central part of Keep Scotland Beautiful’s Source 2 Sea Week as part of Spring Clean 2019.

The ‘Poly Roger’ boat will begin its journey at The Falkirk Wheel heading west to Bowling Harbour.  The boat will take local people out on ‘plastic fishing’ trips to raise awareness of the growing levels of plastic pollution in Scottish rivers and canals and to encourage more people to recycle their used plastic.   The boat has been built from plastic collected on previous plastic fishing trips, with plans to build a litter-busting fleet across the UK – a fantastic example of the circular economy in action. Scottish Canals will be supporting the delivery of the plastic fishing trips and will also be organising paddle pick-ups along the route to target litter in the canal.

The plastic fishing initiative has come from Hubbub and has been built using funds collected from Starbucks’ 5p charge on drinks purchased in a paper cup across its 950 stores nationwide.  It’s only the third boat of its kind in the world and the first to launch outside of London. The craftsman tasked with building the boat was expert boat-builder Mark Edwards MBE, who also built the Queen’s barge ‘Gloriana’.  The design is based on a traditional punt, but it’s made from the most modern of materials – Plaswood, a hardwearing alternative to wood that is made entirely from recycled single-use plastic – and it’s powered by a rechargeable electric motor making it the most sustainable of boats.

“We’re delighted to be teaming up with Keep Scotland Beautiful and Hubbub for this innovative project.

“Littering and fly tipping can be a real issue on Scotland’s canals, particularly in urban areas. Last year our staff and hundreds of volunteers collected more than a tonne of litter from the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals alone.

“By launching the Poly Roger’s tour of Scotland’s canals at The Falkirk Wheel, the world’s only rotating boat lift, we hope we can kick-start a recycling revolution. I’d encourage everyone to get involved and help us care for the incredible environments of the nation’s waterways.”

“From the revolutionary engineering of The Falkirk Wheel to the soaring steel of The Kelpies, Scotland’s canals have long been associated with iconic artworks that bring real benefits to the communities around them. Thanks to the support of our partners at SUSTRANS and Glasgow City Council, North Glasgow will soon have its own epic landmark.

“Permanently connecting the communities of Maryhill, Gilshochill and Ruchill for the first time since the canal was constructed more than two centuries ago, Stockingfield Bridge will provide the missing link in the canal’s towpath network. By connecting these parts of the city, we will create the opportunity for even more people to explore the incredible environments of the Forth & Clyde Canal by boot or bike.”

Dr Olivia Lassiere, Environment Manager at Scottish Canals

The Poly Roger started its tour in Manchester at the end of April and following its visit to central Scotland it will continue on to Birmingham and Bristol. In each location Hubbub is partnering with local organisations and volunteers, who nominated their area to take part in the Plastic Fishing Tour as part of a competition with the Daily Mirror to raise awareness of the issue of plastic pollution across UK waterways. One of the four areas will ultimately be chosen to keep the boat on a permanent basis.

Gavin Ellis, Co-founder and Director of Hubbub, said: “The pictures we’ve received from all over the country have shown how widespread the problem of plastic pollution is and it’s clear there is a strong desire from the public to help keep their local areas clean and safe for wildlife. We’ve seen the difference that plastic fishing has made in London, where we’ve taken 1,415 people out on trips and collected 162 kg from the London Docklands.  We’re really looking forward to visiting Scotland as part of our Plastic Fishing Tour which will help clean-up local waterways also remind people of the importance of recycling the plastic we use in our everyday lives.”

Jaz Rabadia, UK senior manager of energy and sustainability, Starbucks Europe Middle East and Africa, said: “As a business we are continually looking at ways in which we can help to shrink our environmental footprint – whether that’s in the way we operate or by helping our customers to make more sustainable choices.

“We know we have a responsibility to help protect the planet and that’s why we’re so pleased to be able to continue to support Hubbub, and initiatives including the Plastic Fishing Tour. We look forward to seeing what happens as the boat travels to each city and helps communities clean up their local waterways.”

Derek Robertson, Chief Executive, Keep Scotland Beautiful, said:

“Our research shows that litter levels in Scotland are at their worst in a decade and clearly shows that people across Scotland are deeply concerned by the amount of litter finding its way from land into our rivers and oceans, and now is the time to take action.

“We are delighted to be working with Hubbub and Scottish Canals to host the Plastic Fishing Punt on its tour as part of our focus on litter from source to sea during spring clean 2019.  With more than 20,000 people taking part in spring clean events across Scotland during April and May there is still time to get involved and clean up our county.”

Those in Scotland wishing to see Plastic Fishing in action are invited to join in the events at the following locations across the country:

Date Location
Tuesday 7th May, 10am Falkirk Wheel, Falkirk


Wednesday 8th May, 10am


Kirkintilloch Marina(both directions)
Thursday 9th May, 10am


Maryhill (both directions)
Friday 10th May, 10am


Dalmuir to Bowling Beach, mouth of the Clyde

After visiting Scotland the Plastic Fishing Tour will continue in the following locations:

20 – 29th May – Bristol in partnership with Sustainable Hive, Bristol Waste Company, Sea Cadets and Bristol Harbour Authority.

3rd June – 9th June – Birmingham in partnership with the Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust

Find out more information and register interest in going on a trip at

Notes to Editors

For more information contact the Hubbub team at Barley Communications:  

Nicola Ennis 07837 201085

Sam Williams 07949 607029

About Scottish Canals

Scottish Canals is responsible to the Scottish Government for the management and development of the Union, Monkland, Forth & Clyde, Crinan and Caledonian Canals. As well as the waterways themselves, Scottish Canals care for bridges, buildings, locks, The Falkirk Wheel, The Kelpies and water supply reservoirs in locations across Scotland. The reservoirs cover an area equivalent to 7,494 football pitches and supply the canals with the 332 million litres of water which flow through them each day.

The Forth & Clyde, Union and Monkland canals in the Lowlands, the Crinan Canal in Argyll and the Caledonian Canal in the Highlands together extend over 137 miles from coast to coast, across country and into the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.

Built two hundred years ago to fire the Industrial Revolution, today the canals contribute to the Scottish Government agenda of developing a Greener; Healthier; Smarter; Safer and Stronger; and Wealthier and Fairer Scotland by acting as a catalyst for sustainable economic development, regeneration and tourism; contributing to education, biodiversity, heritage and promoting active living and healthier lifestyles. The Forth & Clyde, Union, Monkland, Caledonian and Crinan canals are recognised as Scheduled Monuments and attract 22million visits per year.

For more information, visit or follow @ScottishCanals on Twitter.

About Hubbub

Hubbub is a charity which explores innovative ways to interest mainstream consumers in important sustainability issues, through different ‘hubs’ of activity: Food; Fashion; Homes; Neighbourhoods. Hubbub’s previous campaigns have included #SquareMileChallenge, the UK’s first large scale solution to coffee cup recycling, #GiftABundle to get pre-loved baby clothes back into circulation and #PumpkinRescue to encourage more people to eat the carvings from their Halloween Pumpkins.

Twitter: @hubbubuk

About Starbucks Coffee Company

Since 1971, Starbucks Coffee Company has been committed to ethically sourcing and roasting high-quality arabica coffee. Today, with more than 28,000 stores around the globe, Starbucks is the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in the world. Through our unwavering commitment to excellence and our guiding principles, we bring the unique Starbucks Experience to life for every customer through every cup. To share in the experience; please visit us in our stores or online at For news on Starbucks in EMEA, please visit

About Plastic Fishing

Plastic Fishing was inspired by a project in Amsterdam called Plastic Whale, which combines sightseeing with cleaning the city’s canals. Christine Armstrong, an author and circular economy champion, saw the potential to adapt the idea for the waterways near her East London home and linked up with Paul Bew, a fellow parent and Yachtmaster, the Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre and local school, Canary Wharf College to set up a pilot. The pilot proved they could clean up the docks, collect valuable plastics and inspire the next generation to take care of the environment too.

Keen to take the idea further, the school was delighted when Hubbub heard about the project and offered to help take it to scale. We collaborated to turn their dream of building a punt dedicated to cleaning the docks into a reality, teaming up with Mark Edwards MBE, a Richmond-based boat builder.

About Keep Scotland Beautiful

Keep Scotland Beautiful is the charity that campaigns, acts and educates on a range of local, national and global environmental issues to change behaviour and improve the quality of people’s lives and the places they care for. We are committed to making Scotland clean, green and sustainable. Keep Scotland Beautiful is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO): Number SC030332.

About Helping Hand Environmental

Helping Hand Environmental have kindly provided litter-pickers and litter-picking gloves for the Plastic Fishing Boat on its tour. They are committed to providing support, for everything litter and lend a helping hand to you when tackling it. As a business we want to assist in making our country more sustainable; creating a cleaner Britain for everybody to enjoy – something we are award-winning for.

About Plaswood

Plaswood recycled plastic lumber has been manufactured in Dumfries, Scotland, by BPI Recycled Products since 1995.  BPI Recycled Products is the largest recycler of waste plastic films in Europe with an annual plastics recycling capacity in excess of 100,000 tonnes.

Plaswood is manufactured 100% from a variety of recovered and recycled waste plastics including bottles, agricultural films plus post use plastics.  Plaswood requires no maintenance and unlike wood will not rot, splinter or degrade with age.  Plaswood is the environmentally superior alternative to conventional construction materials such as steel, concrete and wood with a much lower carbon footprint and energy consumption.

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