Student devises simple way to stem the tide of plastic waste entering our oceans

Grace Watts.
Grace Watts.

An 'ingenious invention' from a University of Northampton student could help to stem the tide of plastic waste that enters our oceans.

The Plastigully is a simple device that sits in street storm drains and collects any litter that falls into them, while maintaining water flow. The device – which itself is made from recyclable plastic – can then be removed, emptied and re-inserted into the drain.

The brainchild of Product Design student, Grace Watts, the Plastigully has received the backing of the University’s Professor of Sustainable Wastes Management, Margaret Bates, who is a global authority on the issue of plastic pollution.

Professor Bates said: “The issues of ocean plastics is receiving global attention and this neat invention could help reduce our waste contributing to this important problem, whilst also helping to reduce flooding by making drains easy to clean – a win-win.”

Grace, who is hoping the Plastigully will become a viable product, said: “When I was carrying out my research I looked at the ways plastic can enter our oceans and a major source is litter in the street entering waterways.

“With street drains there’s no filtration, litter goes straight into our rivers, so I thought about the ways of trying to stop it. It’s a simple idea, and it works.”

She added: “Like many people my age, I’m disappointed with how blasé the world has been in the past about the environment. But it seems to be a part of human behaviour, to be selfish. Hopefully things are changing, thanks to younger generations, who do seem to be taking the issues seriously.

Grace Watts 'plastigully concept'.

Grace Watts 'plastigully concept'.


“The trouble with plastic is that it does so much good, but causes so much damage. We can’t live without it, so we need to control what we do with it once we’ve used it. Hopefully, my Plastigully can be a small part of the solution.”