Last week, we were excited to welcome Matt Hulland to our school library. Matt works for Exeter City Council and is the manager of the facility that sorts the Exeter and wider Devon recycling, working particularly with plastic.
This year, Matt was voted a ‘Recycling Hero’ by Devon residents in recognition of his efforts to maximise the value of recycling for Exeter and for his work with other local authorities to find solutions for the materials that they have to deal with, both on land and from the sea.
Matt is interested in turning plastic into usable items to allow us to move towards closing the loop on plastic use so that we do not create any more of it and re-use what we currently have in the world wisely.
He spoke to students and staff from our school Green Team and other interested students, about his work and also about founding the Ocean Recovery Project which was created in partnership with Keep Britain Tidy. He is instrumental in organising beach cleans with local communities and where there is difficult cliff-side access he has even got the army on board with litter picks!
He showed us lots of photographs of the type of plastic waste that is collected and recycled. He brought examples of small plastic waste that is difficult to collect from the beach and showed how larger items, such as netting can be turned into small black plastic granules that can be made into 100% recycled items. He also brought in examples of the recycled plastic board that went into last year’s “Recycled” Glastonbury stage. It is reassuring to know that people like Matt are thinking creatively and using science to tackle the plastic problem that humans have created.
Matt was introduced to TCS by the fantastic local group Trail Recycled Art UK, who support our school Green Team with ideas and resources. Students were given the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the talk and Sophie Tapp from Year 10 wanted to know whether he was going to be expanding the number of products that they were making with the black plastic. Matt replied, saying that they had to be very careful to ensure that the products chosen were going to be completely sustainable as he did not want any items produced to be downcycled into less valuable waste – which then might be spread around the world to countries that did not have the facilities to deal with them yet.
If you missed the talk and are interested in volunteering, you can check out Matt’s facebook page, Ocean Recovery Project to find out more about the important work that he does or visit the Keep Britain Tidy website.
Keep an eye out for the large Ocean Recovery Boxes near Teignmouth Pier that are for recycling marine and other plastic that you find on the beach.