plastic pollution on Skye

Isle of Skye: The Worst Plastic Pollution We’ve Ever Seen

On the 20th – 23rd April we took part in our first beach blitz event of the year on the Isle of Skye to tackle the staggering amount of plastic pollution on this beautiful island.

Collaborative Approach

This was a huge team effort and saw multiple groups, organisations, and individuals coming together. Everyone involved had the singular purpose of removing as much plastic pollution as possible. We worked together with Skye Beach Cleans , Ocean Plastic Pots and the Scottish Islands Federation Marine Litter Working Group. The local communities of Skye, Eigg, Rum, Muck, and Canna were all also involved in this clean up operation.

Skye Beach Cleans did an amazing job of organising and coordinating cleans on the island prior to our arrival. This meant there were piles of pre gathered litter ready to be removed, and we also conducted our own cleans on the island.  Our boat was used to assist with the beach cleaning and allowed us to tackle areas that are normally hard/impossible to reach by land. 

Rope and Net Recycling

Rope and netting material is highly recyclable, so we work with Ocean Plastic Pots who take all the rope and netting we gather for recycling in to amazing plant pots (you can find the pots made from our Ulva beach clean here!).

Our Skye Clean incorporated a collaborative pilot project, the first of its kind in Scotland, and was supported by the Ocean Recovery Project, a part of Keep Britain Tidy. Rope and netting gathered on Skye, Eigg, Rum, Muck, and Canna was collected and taken to Mallaig Harbour on the West coast of Scotland. From there it will be sorted by colour and recycled in the UK before being manufactured in Scotland into Ocean Plastic Pots.


SCCU removed around 35m3 of plastic pollution from the bay located near Heaste. This was mainly made up of fishing rope, nets, and rigid plastics like fish boxes, fuel containers, buoys, crates and storage boxes. There was lost fishing and aquaculture gear like feeding pipes, mussel nets, plastic off creels, filter nets etc.

The total combined amount of marine litter removed from Skye over 2 consecutive weekends was 10 tonnes. 1.7t was rope and netting that was taken for recycling by Ocean Plastic Pots and Ocean Recovery Project.

Future Plans

We tried to cut and remove a section of the huge area of densely packed tangle of rope and net. This proved to be extremely difficult, and the layers of rope and net were very deep, around 1.5 – 2ft in places. Unfortunately we had neither the time nor capacity to remove it all this time, but we have formulated a plan to return to Skye and tackle them during a 24 hour clean up operation in July. Keep an eye on our Beach Blitz page for dates.

This weekend not only highlighted the huge issues our beaches are facing, but also how important it is for people to work together to remove it and more importantly, to prevent it from entering the ocean in the first place.

More Information

You can read more about our trip to Skye:

On the BBC website

In the Oban Times

In The National

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