Referendum – ban cheap bodyboards

Plastic Free Torridge, Plastic Free North Devon and Keep Britain Tidy’s Ocean Recovery Project  have announced a single question referendum on the sale of cheap polystyrene bodyboards across northern Devon, a sentiment which many people from other areas share. They say:

Cheap polystyrene bodyboards have blighted coastlines across the world for decades. Annually,  hundreds of thousands of low-cost body boards are discarded on beaches across the world.

Keep  Britain Tidy report that 16,000 cheap polystyrene bodyboards ended up discarded on UK beaches  every year. Hundreds of these “sub £10” brightly coloured boards, known to break easily often after  only one or two uses, are invariably discarded on northern Devon beaches by angry parents who feel cheated. These 16,000 single use boards create a large amount of waste in the UK and create a huge carbon footprint.

These boards, made from a block of standard polystyrene wrapped in brightly  printed nylon cloth, are sourced from China, transported thousands of miles only to snap within  minutes of use. Standard polystyrene is fragile and crumbles easily posing danger to sea and shore  life alike as animals mistake these small white nuggets for food – Polystyrene Popcorn.

In the ocean, algae and small organisms grow on crumbled polystyrene or Polystyrene Popcorn adding weight  causing the nuggets to sink and present itself as food to fish. The human health threat from  polystyrene comes from one of its building blocks Styrene. In 2018, the World Health Organisation  reclassified Styrene from a “possible carcinogen” to a “probable carcinogen” – a probable cause of  cancer.

 Andrew Cross, of Plastic  Free Torridge says: “These, often single use, cloth covered polystyrene bodyboards are a blight on our  beaches. We are seeking the voluntary support of retailers across the region to remove these items  from sale. If you want to send a message to local retailers about these bodyboards, find LET’S BAN  CHEAP POLYSTYRENE BODYBOARDS on Facebook and have your vote.”

The Referendum asks one question:

“Should cheap, brightly printed, cloth covered, polystyrene bodyboards be removed from sale at  every retailer across northern Devon?”

With both local MP’s supporting the campaign, both District Councils considering motions in early  2021, a curriculum letter writing project for local school children and on-going promotion of  bodyboard rental scheme, we hope to see a considerable reduction in he number of bodyboards  discarded across northern Devon beaches.

“Plastic Free North Devon are proud to be partnering in this campaign”, stated Claire Moodie, CEO,  Plastic Free North Devon. “There is considerable concern across the region about the negative  impact these polystyrene boards have on our local wildlife. The success of our wooden belly board  rental scheme last summer confirmed that if we can make alternatives available, people will use  them.”

“This campaign further spotlights the concern about polystyrene bodyboards”, commented Neil  Hembrow, Ocean Recovery Project Manager, Keep Britain Tidy. ”Last summer, such a short holiday  season, we collected over 300 discarded bodyboards from Croyde beach alone despite ever growing  awareness of the plastic pollution crisis we are facing.”

Anyone wanting to vote in the northern Devon Bodyboard Referendum should visit,, join the group and vote.

Voting will be open until midnight on 31st December 2020.

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