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Ocean Plastic Pots

1784. Ally Mitchell

Ally Mitchell, from Glasgow, is a diver who launched ‘Ocean Plastic Pots’ in 2020 to repurpose ocean debris and plastic waste, such as discarded ropes and fishing nets collected from beaches, into plant pots.

Ally Mitchell

Through his work as a diver, Ally frequently encountered ocean waste and the damaging consequences this has on marine life, and was particularly struck after a whale washed up on Luskentyre beach on the Isle of Harris in December 2019 with over 100kg of rope, fishing net and plastic debris caught inside it. He began collecting marine waste and realised he could repurpose the materials into a new product which could itself be recycled, creating a circular economy. Teaching himself manufacturing techniques from his garden shed, he began creating plastic plant pots, and selling these at a local food market in Edinburgh. Ally’s pots have since received huge demand, with a manufacturer secured to increase production, and was recognised at the 2021 RHS Chelsea Flower Show as Sustainable Garden Product of the Year. Each pot provides a 26 gram saving on carbon emissions, and sales from the pots are helping to support ‘Ghost Fishing UK’, a charity of volunteer technical divers who specialise in the removal of lost fishing gear and rope.

In a personal letter to Ally, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

“You have seen first-hand as a diver the damage to our ocean life caused by plastic. So I was inspired to learn of how you have turned your passion for preserving marine life into a brilliantly innovative social enterprise. 

“By converting discarded fishing gear and rope into ‘Ocean Plastic Pots’, you are clearing Scotland’s beautiful coastline and cutting down on plastic waste. It is brilliant that you were honoured by the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and I am also delighted to recognise your work.”

Ally said:

“I am overwhelmed to receive the Points of Light Award from the Prime Minister. I set up ‘Ocean Plastic Pots’ to find a recycling solution for discarded fishing gear and rope. Working as a deep sea diver salvaging a ship full of plastic waste during the first UK lockdown, I have seen first hand the devastating effects that plastic pollution is having on the seas around Scotland and the rest of the UK. My aim was to develop a recyclable plant pot from a waste material that created a circular economy. ‘Ocean Plastic Pots’ can be used to grow plants that benefit our environment and can be used as an educational tool to grow awareness of the Ocean Plastic Problem.”

Jackson Carlaw CBE, MSP for Eastwood, said:

“Ally’s work and the success of ‘Ocean Plastic Pots’ is remarkable. It is vital that we restore and protect our oceans and it is through the ingenuity displayed by people such as Ally that this can be accomplished. He should be incredibly proud of his achievements.”

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