Westward Ho! First UK seaside resort to ban cheap polystyrene boards

Plastic Free Torridge, Plastic Free North Devon and Keep Britain Tidy’s Ocean Recovery Project have announced a ban on selling cheap polystyrene bodyboards in Westward Ho, because every independent retailer in the village from the Post Office to the shops on the slipway is working together; they will not be selling cheap polystyrene bodyboards this coming summer. What a brilliant achievement.
Info from the group: Let’s Ban Cheap Polystyrene Body Boards
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. These “sub £10” brightly coloured boards, known to break easily often after only one or two uses, are invariably discarded on UK 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. Polystyrene is fragile and crumbles easily posing danger to sea and shore life alike as animals mistake these small white polystyrene balls for food.
Once in the ocean, algae and small organisms grow on each ball 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.
The campaign, started in October 2019, has attracted widespread support across northern Devon with both area MPs along with District, Town and Parish Councils calling on local retailers to remove these items from sale.
Over 97% of 1,600 local residents polled have called for a change to made to stop the damage these boards are causing to our natural environment.
“Today we can announce a self-imposed ban on cheap polystyrene bodyboards in Westward Ho!”, confirmed Andrew Cross, of Plastic Free Torridge.
“Every independent retailer in the village will not be selling this type of bodyboard this coming summer. The business community here really understands the impact these boards have on our natural environment. They know just doing their bit is not enough. By imposing a ban themselves, they are showing the way for others.”
Cheap polystyrene bodyboards are popular with visiting tourists and stocked by many independent retailers across northern Devon.
In Westward Ho!, Westbourne Souveniers, Westward Ho! Beach Shop, Ho! Gifts, Kitemare-Surf & Kite Shop, Ho! Village Stores, Surfers, Slipway Beach Sales and the Post Office have all decided to not sell cheap polystyrene bodyboards in the future.
“Our business community is right behind this campaign”, commented Peter Sawyer, Chair of Westward Ho! Business Association and owner of Kitemare Surf & Kite Shop. “We are very pleased to be the first village in the UK to bring in a self-imposed ban and, I hope, the first of many to do so.”
Westward Ho! is the first village in the UK to implement a ban. The campaign focus will now shift to the other villages across northern Devon.
“We are calling on all retailers across northern Devon to remove this type of bodyboard from sale”, stated Claire Moodie, CEO, Plastic Free North Devon. “We know some businesses have already done this and we are grateful for their support. We will now be pushing for every town and village across northern Devon to introduce their own self-imposed bans.”

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