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600 bodyboards collected from Westcountry beaches

600 bodyboards collected from Westcountry beaches

Our pioneering BeachCare programme has collected broken body boards left on three Westcountry beaches, highlighting the problem of the cheap polystyrene boards and the amount of waste they create.

BeachCare will be using the boards for an educational challenge project for South Devon’s University Technical College (UTC) before sending the boards onto a play scheme in Bristol for recycling.

 With the help of South West Water, Cornwall Council, Cory Environmental and the beach ranger team at Croyde, these cheap, poorly constructed boards have been collected after being stuffed into bins or simply littered on the beach by visitors. In just one month an incredible 600 boards have been removed from three Westcountry beaches.  

Neil Hembrow, BeachCare Officer, said: “The amount of these cheap broken polystyrene boards we find is incredible : 600 in August alone from a few beaches. If we collected these UK wide we’d have a huge warehouse full. I’d encourage anyone visiting our beaches to buy a better quality board that will last a lot longer. Although better quality boards may cost more they will last 10 summer holidays rather than 10 minutes.

“We’ve managed to find a recycling solution but usually these broken boards will end up in landfill. They are manufactured in China, shipped over 5000 miles, distributed to stores and surfed for 10 minutes before breaking and going to landfill. Shipped across the planet to end up in our landfill sites – It is such an incredible waste!”

Polystyrene has little value as a recycled material because it is high volume and light. Transportation costs often exceed the value of the waste.

BeachCare calculates that if over a summer season 200 boards were discarded on every one of the bathing water beaches across the south west, that would equate to over 28,000 boards filling up landfill sites.

The BeachCare program has worked with Exeter City Council’s recycling team to find a recycling solution for the boards. In 2010 two hundred boards were sent to a local dance theatre for under floor cushioning and this batch of 600 will be sent to a creative play centre in Bristol.

Kelly Wyatt from Childrens Scrapstore, Bristol, is delighted to receive them. She said: “We were really pleased to be contacted by BeachCare and are going to put the body boards into our Scrapstore PlayPods.

“The Scrapstore PlayPod programme is an exciting initiative that helps over 300 schools in the UK provide their children with loose parts play in the playground. This transforms play at lunchtimes, making it vibrant and dynamic and we are sure that the boards will prove a popular addition to our Scrapstore PlayPods."

The boards have also been used by students at the new South Devon University Technical College. Engineering Students will be tasked with creating a better, stronger and more eco-friendly design and also to come up with a use for the huge pile of waste boards.

Assistant Principal Alison Hannah, says “This project provides UTC students with a design challenge that may significantly improve the experiences for all those who enjoy the Devon coastline.  They are working with Neil and his team to analyse better use of materials and the design of a board that can withstand the elements and pressures of the sea.

“Their aim is to improve the durability of these boards and therefore reduce the numbers of damaged and broken boards left as waste on our beaches. This project is one of many that the students will work on throughout the academic year, providing our students with an opportunity to engage in technical real-world problems such as those faced by Science and Engineering professionals every day.”

Leashes from the broken boards have been removed and given to a local surfing club and many of the better quality boards have been repaired. These will be given away via the BeachCare Facebook page. 

If you have a solution for recycling the bodyboards in the future please get in-touch with the BeachCare programme via Keep Britain Tidy or through their social media sites. BeachCare expects to be collecting more bodyboards over the next few years.


The BeachCare programme which is supported by South West Water, supports volunteer beach cleans across Devon and Cornwall and has removed over 104 tonnes of litter from the beach. 

If you would like to follow their progress please follow them on Facebook and Twitter