Clyde shipbuilder joins national campaign to keep Scotland litter-free

A Clyde shipbuilder has signed up to a national campaign to stop man-made debris ending up in the sea, where it can harm the environment and kill wildlife.

Engineering giant BAE Systems which has shipyards at Govan and Scotstoun, has partnered up with environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful to support its award-winning Upstream Battle initiative to tackle marine litter “from source to sea”.

As part of the move the engineering giant will help raise awareness for the campaign as well as supporting public engagement activities through two newly created Community Clean Up Hubs located near the shipbuilder’s Glasgow sites.

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The two new hubs will add to an existing network of 31 similar centres already established across Scotland.

The hubs will offer expertise and equipment to facilitate litter-picking work and will enable employees and local residents to get involved in the campaign and wider clean-up efforts.

The move comes in a bid to stop rubbish ending up in the environment in the first place – figures show 80 per cent of marine litter starts life on land.

“We are delighted to welcome BAE Systems on board as a supporter of Upstream Battle – it is great to have the support of an iconic Glasgow business and employer,” said Barry Fisher, chief executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful.

“We all need to do more to tackle litter at source and prevent it getting into our waterways, seas and oceans.

Engineering giant BAE Systems, which has shipyards at Govan and Scotstoun, has partnered up with environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB) to support its award-winning Upstream Battle initiative to tackle marine litter “from source to sea”

“And with COP26 coming to Glasgow in November, this is an ideal opportunity to raise the profile of the challenges associated with marine litter and place this firmly in the context of the climate emergency.

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The partnership comes as part of a wider drive by BAE Systems to reduce its ecological impacts and help tackle climate change.

Paul Feely, engineering director for naval ships at BAE Systems, said: “Sustainability is important to us and as a responsible company we’re working hard to reduce our impact on the environment.

Paul Feely, engineering director and chair of Net Zero Task Force for BAE Systems, and Barry Fisher, chief executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, launch their new anti-littering partnership at Glasgow Harbour, across the Clyde from the Govan Shipyard. Picture: Peter Devlin

“BAE Systems recently announced a target to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across our operations by 2030 and across our value chain by 2050, and more locally we want to reduce the problem of marine litter in our local communities and our waterways, such as the River Clyde.

“We’re excited to be working with Keep Scotland Beautiful, supporting the communities that we’re a part of, to establish two new local Community Clean Up Hubs close to our shipyards in Glasgow.

“We’re encouraging our employees and residents local to Scotstoun and Govan to get involved and support throughout the summer so that together we can make a difference in our local communities.”

In addition to the establishment of the new hubs, support from BAE Systems will enable a number of community clean-up events to take place over the next eight months, as restrictions allow, to allow employees and local people to tackle litter and related environmental quality issues in the Govan and Scotstoun areas.

HMS Glasgow, a new Type 26 frigate for the Royal Navy, is currently under construction by BAE Systems at its Govan shipyard on the Clyde

Estimates suggest more than eight million tonnes of man-made materials end up in oceans across the globe each year, killing around 100,000 sea mammals and one million seabirds annually.

Plastic pollution, which includes discarded fishing gear, polythene bags and bottles, persists in the environment for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

Over time it gradually disintegrates into smaller pieces which can be swallowed by fish, seabirds and other marine wildlife, while larger pieces can cause entanglement.

Studies have shown that more than a quarter of seabird nests in Scotland contain plastic litter, while synthetic particles were found in 100 per cent of UK shellfish such as mussels that were sampled.

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