Every cap counts – the message behind the 6,000 plastic bottle caps

…..and so it began

Early last year Ferns Tidy Towns carried out a survey on the street to see how members of the community were managing to reduce single use plastic waste. They were surprised to discover that there was some confusion around whether or not plastic bottle caps could be recycled. A staggering 60% of those surveyed were putting them in their household waste bin! During litter picks there was also a considerable number of plastic caps discarded along the footpaths and communal areas.

The result of the on street survey accompanied by the statistics on the amount of plastic generated in Ireland made for some alarming reading. With this in mind the committee set about making plans for a project to highlight the effects of single use plastic on the environment. Putting their heads together they came up with a plan to design and make two murals using plastic bottle caps. This would bring attention to the plastic bottle cap dilemma and a novel way to highlight the damaging effects of plastic on the environment.

How much plastic do we generate?

  • Up to 97 per cent of Irish plastic went to China because of our inability to deal with it at home up to 2017, before that market closed.
  • 2.5 million plastic bottles are disposed of in Ireland every day.
  • Ireland is the top producer of plastic waste in Europe; generating an average of 61kgs per person every year – almost double what the UK produces.
  • We produce the equivalent of nearly 2,000 water bottles, or 5,550 disposal coffee cups, per person annually
  • More than 60 per cent of plastic waste still comes from packaging – but only 40 per cent of that packaging is recycled
  • In 2015, Ireland generated 282,148 tonnes of plastic packaging waste.
  • 30 per cent of the EU’s plastic is recycled (the equivalent figure in Ireland is 34 per cent); 39 per cent is incinerated, 31 per cent goes to landfills.
  • We have recycled 8.5 billion plastic bottles since 1997.
Ferns Tidy Towns volunteers checking out the 90kg of sorted plastic bottle caps

The details of the proposed bottle-cap mural project was submitted under the Waste Prevention Grant Scheme run by the Environment Section of Wexford County Council and the Southern Waste Region, Ferns Tidy Towns were successful in securing funding under this scheme. The idea behind the project was to highlight the negative impacts of single use plastics on our environment.

Plastic bottle caps second most littered item after cigarette butts.

  • Bottle caps are often so small that it is easy to overlook the impact they have on the environment. If you drop one on the ground at the park or the beach, you may think it is not important. However, little caps bobbing in the water can look like an easy meal for a wide variety of wildlife, from fish and sea turtles to marine birds. The animals eat the tops, feel full, do not eat real food and die from starvation.
  • Plastic bottle tops are one of the top 10 items found during marine debris beach clean-ups worldwide and are the second most littered item after cigarette butts. Over 100 million marine animals are killed each year due to plastic debris in the ocean. Most rubbish that ends up in the water begins its journey on land.
  • It is estimated that by 2050 the ocean will contain more plastic by weight than fish. The plastic that finds its way into the oceans inevitably will pose a risk of ingestion by sea birds, fish, marine mammals, etc. It’s not uncommon to see articles of sea life found dead with significant amounts of plastic in their stomach.
  • According to the United Nations, ingestion of plastic kills an estimated 1 million marine birds and 100,000 marine animals each year.
  • Additionally, more than 90% of all birds and fish are believed to have plastic particles in their stomach. It’s because plastic breaks up into tiny pieces in the sea, which are then consumed by fish and other sea animals.
Sorting the bottle caps and placing them on painted designs before gluing into place

A helping hand from the community

Ferns Tidy Towns wanted a concrete way to show the local community the large impact such a small thing like a bottle cap could have. A call was put out to the community via social media looking for bottle caps of all colours, shapes and sizes. The plan was to get as many members of the community, both adults and children involved with recycling and waste prevention in a very hands on way. By helping to design and make the mural the community would remember not to drop the cap on the street or send them to landfill but to recycle them and better still eventually reduce their plastic waste by refusing single use plastic.

After five months a staggering 90kg of plastic bottle caps were collected. That’s just in our small community. Think of how many tops that is across the country in a year. Now imagine how many it would be worldwide. Now imagine how many that would be in 5 years, in 10… It really is mind blowing.

With a design in mind they asked the local art group, junior members of Ferns Tidy Towns and as many members of the community as possible to join them in making the mural. The plastic bottle caps were sorted into their various colours and sizes. Marine plywood was sourced for the backing board because it was suitable for outdoor use. After priming the two 8×4 sheets (cut into eight 4×2 lengths) with white emulsion the design was painted on using several layers of coloured water based emulsion paint testers and then to give the mural longevity it was finished with three coats of yacht varnish. The bottle caps were then glued into position. When the glue dried they were then painstakingly anchored into place with screws.

All hands on deck from the local community

The message in the bottle caps

The mural was placed at the Community Vegetable garden and home composting demo site . Ferns Tidy Towns use this area to run workshops on reducing waste, composting, growing your own and water conservation.

The educational mural made from plastic bottle caps sends the message to the wider community about the importance of refusing/reducing/recycling plastic to help the environment and prevent plastic waste from damaging our marine life. The ocean theme mural will raise awareness of the harmful effects of plastic bottle caps on marine life and the wildflower/wildlife to raise awareness of the effects of plastic to our environment, wildlife and plants.

Ferns Tidy Towns hope the community will take a step back and look at the cap on their drinks bottle. It starts there. Each one makes a difference. Each one you keep out of the ocean and out of landfill, you keep out of our marine animals and the local environment. Thanks to everyone involved in helping to bring the vision of a ‘Plastic Free Ferns’ to life by creating the bottle cap murals.  

Bringing the vision of a ‘Plastic Free Ferns’ to life by creating the bottle cap murals.  

Interview on South East radio’s Morning Mix

Mary Gethings speaking to Alan Corcoran about the damaging effects of plastic on our environment and thestory behind the plastic bottle cap murals
Workshops on reducing waste, composting, growing your own and water conservation.

Reducing single use drinking water plastic bottles

During the Summer of 2017 Ferns Tidy Towns contacted Refill.ie, a voluntary environmental project leading the way to make Ireland a tap water refilling country once again. Their aim was to prevent plastic waste through reducing the amount of single use drinking water plastic bottles consumed in Ferns of which a very significant portion end up on our streets and eventually finds its way to our waterways and seas.  To date they have an impressive fourteen refill points around the town ranging from businesses offering free tap water refills to public accessible taps registered on the Refill Ireland Tap Map.

Remember to use the right bottle – instead of buying disposable plastic water bottles every time you’re on the move, why not buy a reusable one and fill it up before you leave the house, saving money and the planet?

Following on from this success they worked with Wexford County Council and Gorey Municipal council to replace an old broken tap with a water fountain to enable people to refill on the go. A replica of an old water fountain was installed in the area where the old village pump once stood as it was an important feature in yesteryear. This has been a great success with people filling up on the go with fresh tap water.

Water conservation

Over the years Ferns Tidy Towns have concentrated on projects in the community to help reduce waste especially single use plastic and food waste, conserve water and working towards making Ferns a more sustainable village. In 2016 we won the Irish Water Value Award for the best small town in the South East region of the Supervalu Tidy Towns regional awards. The Value Water Award was about raising awareness of the importance of mindful water consumption within communities and reconnecting communities with water, creating a greater understanding of where water comes from and where waste water goes to. The project in 2016 focused on water conservation. The initiative promoted the use of rainwater harvesting in the community and the benefits of water conservation through education.

Eco Watering System


Water is precious and vital to all life on our planet but there is only a limited amount of it. Most of us don’t think about water. We all have bad habits when using water. These habits mean that we often use more water than we need and therefore waste it, without thinking of the impact. This is damaging to the environment and can have an effect on our utility bills. Water efficiency is about reducing waste and thinking about the water we all use, changing bad habits into good habits. Conserving water not only helps preserve the precious and limited resource, but in turn provides a variety of benefits.

Everyone can save money by saving water. Treating and supplying water requires a lot of energy with its associated carbon emissions of course. Therefore, saving water will reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment. Everyone can do their bit to help protect our environment by not wasting water. Using water wisely within a community will help to achieve an environmentally sensitive place for people to live.

Water butts installed to collect rainwater at Ferns Community Garden
Posters designed by local school children

TT ECO-350 Watering System

Ferns Tidy Towns have been struggling for years to properly water their plants and flowers around the village, especially in warm dry summer weather, with the result that they were not getting full value from their floral displays throughout the flowering months.

We worked alongside Ferns Tidy Towns to design and supply a bespoke, portable watering system to suit their watering needs, reduce water waste and make more efficient use of the rainwater collected in the water butts located at the community vegetable garden and other locations around the village.

The result was the TT ECO-350 watering system, the name inspired by the local Tidy Towns group but equally suitable for other community groups or individuals. The TT ECO-350 watering system gives you great flexibility in its operation and use. It allows you to fill the 350 litre tank from an external source such as a water butt, a rainwater harvesting storage unit or a natural spring for instance. For those with their own water well it can also be filled directly by hose through the filler cap on the tank but we do recommend using grey water whenever possible.

Watering the vegetable garden in the Community Park
Watering flower baskets at Ferns Castle
Pumping water directly to the hose from a natural spring

Operating Modes

There are also several options as to how the system operates. It can pump:

  • directly from the external inlet to the hose outlet without using the tank storage (as shown in the image just above)
  • from the external inlet to the tank (filling the tank)
  • from the tank to the hose outlet (emptying the tank)
  • from the bottom of the tank to the top of the tank (for mixing purposes, handy for ensuring a good mix of liquid fertiliser for instance)
Watering from the TT ECO-350 tank at St. Mogue’s Well

When pumping from the external inlet the supplied suction hose (with filter) is used. The hose used is wire reinforced PVC hose – specifically designed for vacuum/suction.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_5724-2-761x1024.jpg
Filling the TT ECO-350 tank from a water butt

Design Features

The tank is designed with internal baffles that limit water movement when being transported in a vehicle. The tanks are manufactured from semi-translucent medium-density polyethylene (MDPE) that is ideal for easily checking the water level within the tank. The tank has a spring-vented filler cap.

The pump is an on-demand marine grade pump with capacity to pump up to 15 litres per minute and it is self priming. The pump is powered through the cigarette lighter socket in your vehicle. The external inlet and hose outlet use high quality stainless steel quick-connect couplings with stop valves.

As well as the operating options outlined above the system can also be used to supply water for various applications, such as to a pressure washer for instance.

Supplying grey water to a pressure washer

Multiple Uses

So, the TT ECO-350 watering system has several uses and is ideal for community groups such as Tidy Towns groups and Community Garden groups or individuals who want to conserve water by using it in a more efficient manner and avoid wasting it. Uses of the system include:

  • Watering
  • Wash-down
  • Spraying
  • Water Supply
Using a wash-down lance with fan head
Using a wash-down lance with jet head

Solutions to suit your application

Other tank sizes and bespoke solutions are available and a mobile 110 litre wheeled unit with battery and optional solar panel is in development.

Contact us

Please contact Eco Evolution for further details: info@EcoEvolution.ie

Community Hydropower at Ludford Mill

Ludford Mill hydropower scheme is a community investment project which will supply hydropower for local households with excess power supplied to the grid. The Ludlow Hydro Co-operative made the decision to harness the river Teme for Ludlow by bringing the 17th Century listed Ludford Mill back to life by installing  a state-of-the art Archimedean Screw hydropower turbine, cunningly designed to fit in with the current buildings. Installed at a 17th Century listed mill and horseshoe weir on the Teme the semi compact Archimedean Screw hydropower turbine with a maximun power output of 29kW and an estimated annual output of 170,000kWh will save 73 tonnes of CO2 annually.

Artists impression of Ludford Mill hydropower scheme

Artists impression of Ludford Mill hydropower scheme

The Archimedean Screw is contained inside an enclosure which is built to complement the structure of the existing buildings, and the screw itself will not be visible. The enclosure will also provide sound insulation so that noise levels will be kept very low.

249

The scheme was designed by Mannpower Consulting Ltd and the civil engineering work began on the hydro turbine in the second week in August 2015 and the schedule was that by the second week in October the main enclosure walls would be complete, with stop logs top and bottom, which would allow the removal of the temporary cofferdam and retreat out of the river itself.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

225

Over the next few months between October and January preparations were put in place to build the pump house for the electrical control gear, sluice gates, screens and walkways were installed and electrical cables and hydraulic lines were in place for the arrival of the turbine.

Ludford Mill

257

Then 30kW Archimedean Screw hydropower turbine designed by Landustrie arrived on site in March and was commissioned by Mannpower and Eco Evolution in April.

258

Once again we see the Ancient power of Archimedes being used for hydropower generation because if it’s fish-friendly credentials. The Archimedean Screw turbine provides a fish-friendly alternative to conventional turbines, ideally suited to low-head (1m-10m) sites, and sites with fish protection issues. Extensive fish passage tests have conclusively demonstrated that the large water chambers and slow rotation of the Archimedean Screw allow fish of all sizes, and debris, safe passage through the turbine. As a result, the Environment Agency has agreed that no screening is required.

If you are the owner of an old mill site or a potential hydro site or are a community group interested in developing a hydro project for community use please contact us here.

 

 

Donside Community Archimedean Screw Hydropower Scheme

The Hydro scheme is located in Donside Village in Tillydrone, on the banks of the River Don. The Village is a relatively new, sustainable community based on the site of an old papermill. The hydro scheme will use the existing mill lade with the addition of a 100kW Archimedes screw. Donside Community Hydro plan to raise the money to build the scheme via a community share offer. Aberdeen Community Energy says Donside Hydro will generate £30,000 every year for community initiatives.

donside

Photo Credit: Highland Eco-Design

The scheme which is at design stage will generate enough electricity to power 122 households.

System Elements

Available head 1.75m
Max. flow rate 10,000 l/s
Screw bladed length 5.61m
100kW Archimedes Screw
Screw weight 20 tonnes

The proposed Donside hydropower scheme

The proposed Donside hydropower scheme

Community Benefits

Aberdeen Community Energy (Ace), a community benefit society set up by members of the Donside Community Association (DCA), will be launching a community share offer over the next few weeks to back the Donside Hydropower scheme.

The proposed hydropoweer scheme will draw water from the River Don to create renewable electricity that will be sold to the national grid. Surplus profits from the initiative will be channelled into a community fund that will be used to achieve social and environmental benefits for local, deprived communities. Ace together with their partners at the DCA have been working towards launching the scheme for the past three years and are finally in a position where they can share the project with the world, and open it up to investment.
The Donside Hydropower scheme will help Scotland on its journey towards 100% renewable electricity by 2020, and it will also create a sustainable community that truly works for its inhabitants and riverside setting. Aberdeen Community Energy are already working closely with members of the Donside and Tillydrone areas to identify priorities for the community fund, with their immediate focus being on improving the riverside for public use. They are also looking at the longer term outcomes, and have set up a social enterprise called Sinergy that will route surplus income into projects that will deliver sustainable benefits for the wider area.

donside3
With construction planned for late May 2016, Ace said potential investors in the scheme could expect an “ethical, low-risk investment opportunity” delivering around a 5% return on their investment. Ace, which has so far raised around £150,000 from loans, grants and investment from Ace directors, is also seeking conversations with businesses or individuals who may be interested in supporting the initiative financially in the short term, as either a lender or investor.
The community share offer will be available for investment from April 2016. A launch event will take place at an Aberdeen city centre location in the weeks after the share offer is live.

Archimedes arrives at Osney Lock!

Osney Lock Hydro is the first community-owned hydro scheme to be built on the Thames.

Constructing a community-owned hydro scheme at Osney Lock has been a dream for local residents for over thirteen years. It started in 2001 with a survey of  Osney Island residents that revealed a shared concern about climate change and a desire to harness the power of the river that ran around the island to generate green electricity. A small island next to Osney Lock was identified as the best site for the hydro scheme. The island is owned by the Environment Agency so they were approached about the possibility of leasing the site. It was discovered that work was to begin on the weir in 2013 so the pressure was on for the residents to draw up plans for the Archimedean Screw and secure planning permission and then most importantly secure funding for the project.

Construction work prior to installation

Construction work prior to installation

There was extraordinary support shown by local people towards the project. The Osney Lock Hydro share offer raised over £500,000 in just four weeks. Without this swift and significant support the project would not have been able to go ahead. Over 40% of the investment came from within a mile of the project and 4 out of 5 investors live in Oxfordshire.

Osney Lock hydro installation

Lifting the 4.35m Archimedean Screw into place

osney lock hydro installation

On Tuesday 25th March at midday the dreams of the local residents came to life when a 4.35m-long, four-bladed Archimedean screw was installed at Osney Lock – the final construction phase of the Osney Lock Hydro scheme. The screw was designed by Mann Power Consulting Limited in the UK and manufactured in the Netherlands by Landustrie. Once operational, the 49kW variable speed Archimedean Screw turbine  will harness the power of the river to generate approximately 179,000kWh of green electricity per year.  When the scheme is completed it will generate enough electricity equivalent to that used to power around 60 houses. It will also generate an income of over £2 million over the lifespan of the project for the community to use for further environmental projects in the community.

Osney lock hydro installation

The four bladed Archimedean Screw being guided into position ~ Photo Credit: Andrew Watson

Over the coming weeks the power house will be constructed and then the gearbox and generator added. Once the Archimedean Screw is commissioned it will generate clean green elcetricity for the Osney Lock community – a long awaited dream that came to life 🙂

Update: Gear box and generator connected.

Gearbox and generator connected

Gearbox and generator connected