Eco business owners help plant coral reef
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Eco business owners help plant coral reef

Jul 07, 2023

The owners of TDP, a Derbyshire business that makes outdoor furniture from recycled plastic, have reinforced their sustainable credentials by travelling to the UNESCO Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve to help plant a baby coral reef in the Indian Ocean.

Rob and Anne Barlow – whose Wirksworth-based business recently received a Kings Award for Enterprise for Sustainability – are passionate about championing the environment in their home lives as well as in their business, which has, they say, so far saved 4300t of 100% British plastic waste from going into landfill, rivers and oceans, preventing nearly 25 million kg of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.

In 2016, bleaching affected 60% of coral reefs in the area, and huge swathes are further threatened by rising sea temperatures.

Rob says: “Coral reefs are absolutely fascinating. They’re fragile but they regenerate brilliantly too. We dived to pick up coral which had broken off but still had some life in it. We literally captured bits of reef in a net and planted them in a special frame, measuring a metre squared.

“It felt amazing to be making some difference and trying to find out more about how climate change is affecting the world. We’ve since heard that our little reef is doing very well, which is excellent news.”

Rob and Anne previously travelled to Antarctica, joining 25 international scientists as part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), releasing weather balloons from a low-carbon vessel to study winds and temperature at high altitude.

Scientists were also measuring the impact of microplastics on the environment.

Rob says while in the Indian Ocean, he saw firsthand the enormity of the problem: “You do see individual plastic bottles floating past. I saw container ships, and although many have cleaned up their act we did see evidence of plastic waste being discarded once a ship had passed out of sight of land. Locals say it’s quite a common sight. These commercial vessels aren’t the only ones doing that. Remote islands in the Indian Ocean have had hundreds of tonnes of plastic wash up on their shorelines.”

Rob and Anne are planning another visit to the west coast of Canada and Alaska later this year, where they will build on their work in Antarctica.

TDP makes a wide range of furniture including dining tables, benches and planters, and says plastic is an ideal material for outdoor furniture, since it is almost infinitely hard wearing and requires no maintenance.

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