Cheshire West and Chester Council’s recycling team is working with the Blue Planet Aquarium at Cheshire Oaks to encourage visitors to recycle single use plastic bottles.
As part of the work they have commissioned a willow artist, Emma Turner, who has made a large, hollow, fish sculpture for visitors to put their used plastic bottles inside.
The sculpture, displayed at the entrance to the aquarium, sits on a large wooden plinth and includes a sign highlighting some of the issues with single-use plastic. On average people use a plastic bottle for only 12 minutes before they throw them away. Plastic does not decompose and, if it finds its way to rivers and oceans, can break down into tiny pieces causing a major threat to marine life.
Councillor Karen Shore, Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “The unique willow sculpture highlights the link between the number of single use plastic bottles thrown away every day in this country and the problem of plastic waste in our oceans. Art is a fantastic way of drawing attention to some of the key environmental issues facing us at the moment and I hope that it will encourage more people to cut down on purchasing single use plastic.
“By making small changes, such as taking a refillable water bottle out with us and disposing of any plastic waste in a recycling bin or in our grey recycling box at home, we can all help to protect our oceans from plastic pollution.”
Inside the Aquarium during November, artist Jacha Potgieter exhibited some of his work created from plastic waste and fishing netting that he had found washed up on beaches. The sculptures of animals created from discarded material reclaimed from the ocean showcased the huge issue of plastic waste worldwide. His work included an albatross created out of waste plastics, a Mediterranean monk seal covered in fishing nets and other waste material and a turtle eating a plastic bag.
Six Wirral schools are now exhibiting artwork inside the aquarium. Projects from Heswall, Thingwall, Irby, Barnston, Pensby and Gayton schools took the plastic message into their classrooms and created some fabulous exhibits.
Blue Planet Aquarium’s marketing manager, Phil Jones, explains why they got involved: “Conservation is a key message which our aquarium has always been fully committed to and, by taking in these pieces of amazing artwork, we have been able to help showcase the extent of pollution that our oceans now face. To see visitors place their empty plastic bottles in the fish sculpture as they leave sends a really important message from their visit. We must all wake up to the situation that we now face in our oceans.”