Coastal Schools Asked To Address Plastic Pollution Issue

Charity works with coastal schools to educate on plastic littering in County Down

Charity works with coastal schools to educate on plastic littering in County Down

Environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is calling for schools in County Down to sign up to the ‘Coastal Schools’ programme delivered by the Eco-Schools project.

The aim of the programme is to educate post-primary pupils on the dangers of marine plastic pollution and to nudge a reduction in plastic littering behaviour amongst young people.

The scheme is a collaboration between the Environmental Education and Tackling Plastic branches of the organisation as supported by Healthy Seas and Northern Ireland Fishery Harbour Authorityand is funded by The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

30 schools across Northern Ireland will have the opportunity to take advantage of the scheme which is open until March 2022.

KNIB field officers conducting a beach OSPAR survey with pupils of Ulidia Integrated College.

Dedicated Field Officers will lead workshops educating pupils about the harmful effects of marine plastic pollution to the health of the ocean and marine wildlife, followed by an OSPAR Marine Litter beach survey along the local coastline.

Schools are reminded that engaging with this scheme will count towards evidence accepted for Eco-School’s internationally recognised Green Flag award scheme.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful hope this project will highlight the problem of plastic pollution in NI. The charity published the ‘Litter Composition Report 2019-2020’ earlier this year that summarises key findings of litter found on-street in Northern Ireland between 21st January and 4th March 2019. 80% of marine litter begins life as street litter, of which 71% is plastic based.

Commissioned in anticipation of incoming legislative requirements set out in the EU Waste Directive and Plastics Directive that will take effect from 01 January 2022, the publication is the most comprehensive and detailed report for NI to date.

Charlene McKeown, Environmental Education Manager at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “Providing our young people with the opportunity to be involved in ‘citizen science’ is very empowering. Offering students the opportunity to play their part in data gathering to help inform others on the issues around single-use plastic and marine litter will help build resilience in our youth to deal with the future”.

Brian Dunlop, teacher at Ulidia Integrated Collegeinvolved in the project said: “This programme is a wonderful and invaluable experience for the students. To understand the impact of single-use plastics is to understand a key issue in this generation”.

Jenny Lau, environmental officer from the Northern Ireland Fisheries and Harbour Authority said: “The problem of marine plastics is enormous for marine plants and animals as well as NI communities. Changing our community’s understanding of and behaviours around litter starts with children, so this project is really important. It equips young people with knowledge of the issues, what is being done, and how they can participate”.

Schools are encouraged to contact the Environmental Education team to sign up to the Coastal Schools project. To find out more, email:

*Litter Composition Report 2019-20 available to download here


Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is a charity working towards the vision of a cleaner, greener Northern Ireland by running environmental education programmes and awareness raising campaigns, increasing volunteering opportunities and reporting on local environmental quality. Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful runs a range of awareness raising and volunteering campaigns including the BIG Spring Clean and the Clean Coast programme as well as local environmental quality programmes such as international Eco-Schools and Blue Flag programmes, the Seaside Award, Borough Cleanliness Surveys and Live Here Love Here Green Business Awards. For more information, visit :

About Healthy Seas.

The mission of the ‘Healthy Seas, a Journey from Waste to Wear’ initiative is to remove waste from the seas, in particular fishing nets, for the purpose of creating healthier seas and recycling marine litter into textile products. The recovered fishing nets will be transformed and regenerated by Aquafil, together with other nylon waste, into ECONYL® yarn, a high-quality raw material used to create new products, such as socks, swimwear, sportswear or carpets. Since its founding in 2013, Healthy Seas has collected over 585 tons of fishing nets with the help of volunteer divers and fishermen.