Merijn Tinga, a plastics activist who, among other things, organises surfing expeditions to raise awareness about the impact of plastic litter of especially the marine environment, has just brought his most recent tour to a successful ending.
Starting in the southernmost part of the Netherlands, he stand-up-paddle-boarded his way on a board made from plastic litter to Schiermonnikoog, the northernmost Dutch Wadden island of Schiermonnikoog, in the North Sea - a 550 km trip over the inland rivers of the Netherlands.
Along the way, he made a number of stops at various elementary schools, politicians, EU officials and others where he talked about the importance of waste separation at schools. Tinga ’s goal with this latest tour is to remove the obstacles currently standing in the way of better waste separation at Dutch elementary schools.
In the Netherlands, the rubbish produced by schools is treated as business or commercial waste, rather than residential - ‘even though a large part of the garbage from schools is brought from home,’ says the Plastic Soup Surfer. Under the current system, the big food and beverage brands pay for their packaging to be collected from households, but not from businesses.
Because schools are considered businesses, they are also charged higher garbage disposal fees and this is what needs to change.
Tinga called at schools, aiming to get their young students involved. He also handed out petitions to be offered to their municipalities as part of his goal to make them aware that they, too, have a voice and can help to solve the plastic waste problem.
“It all starts with the children,” he said. “They can make a difference. Also by educating their parents about not littering and the need for waste segregation.”
The end of the tour therefore marks the start of an online campaign for schools. The campaign, dubbed the ‘Wakkere Wegwerpers’, which translates broadly as the ‘Better Binners’ - and literally as the 'Woke Waste Tossers' - includes a toolkit for students and teachers that provides guidance on how to approach their local municipalities to request better waste separation facilities at schools, starting with collection points.
“Waste separation at schools should be a self-evident fact of life,” said Tinga. “If it becomes a habit for children, it is a lesson learned for life.”
Tinga’s stand-up-paddle board tour officially ended with a “Waste Summit” to which all the main actors involved in the issue were invited, from representatives from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and the Association of Netherlands Municipalities to the Recycling Network and major waste management companies SUEZ and Renewi. They, too, signed the Better Binners petition. The major brands, although invited, did not attend.
The Better Binners campaign is not the first conducted by Plastic Soup Surfer Merijn Tinga. In the past he has set up campaigns and actions against sweet wrappers, plastic water toys, plastic confetti and much more. His 'message on a bottle expedition' was instrumental in realising the new deposit fee to be levied on small PET bottles by 20121 in the Netherlands.