Collected bottle tops soar above the i360

A staggering 30,000 plastic bottle tops have been collected from the city’s beach and seafront in just eight months.

Stacked together, the tops would reach 449 metres, soaring to two and a half times the size of the i360 and rising more than 100 metres above The Shard, London’s highest skyscraper.

Thankfully the tops, from milk, water, coke, fanta and many more types of plastic bottles, have been saved from possibly entering the sea and used to create a beautiful ‘wave’ art installation beside the Volks Railway.

Cityclean and businesses helped collect the tops

Irene Soler, a Brighton designer and artist, worked with the council’s Cityclean team and local businesses to gather the bottles tops while local volunteers helped string them together.

Irene said: “I chose bottle tops for the project because they were something I was finding almost every time I walked on the shore. 

“They are small enough to be swallowed whole by many sea creatures, may be slow to degrade, may float for a long time, and are among the top 5 items found on beaches around the world.

“Besides being easy to store and count, I felt the tops’ bright colours would make an eye-catching design that I hoped would raise awareness about leaving plastics and other rubbish on our beaches and the impact this has on our oceans.”

Stacked together the bottle tops reach higher than the i360

Once the project was finished, Irene calculated that if every single bottle top was stacked on top of each other, the plastic column would be 2.5 times the height of the i360 at 162m, more than 3 times the height of the London Eye at 135m and 100m higher than The Shard at 310m.

Cllr Anne Pissaridou, chair of the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability committee said: “People would rightly be shocked and horrified if someone pushed a column of plastic bottles tops two and a half times the height of the i360 onto the beach and into the sea.

“But every time someone leaves a bottle top on the beach or seafront they are adding to that massive column and endangering our sea life.

“I’d like to congratulate Irene and everyone involved in creating the art and for bringing this problem to the attention of the public in such an imaginative way.” 

150 volunteers helped create the 50 metre 'wave'

The project, named A Drop in the Ocean, ran from March to November last year and consisted of three three-month phases. 

At the end of each phase, the bottle tops collected were counted, sorted and, with the help of more than 150 local volunteers, used to create the 50 metre long wave on the fence beside the world famous railway.

Irene, who lives in Kemp Town, has suggested ways of reducing what’s left after a visit to the beach: 

  • Pack your own refillable drinks bottle and coffee/tea cup
  • Download the Refill App to find places to refill your water bottle for free
  • Take everything you carry onto the beach back off when you leave
  • If the bins are full, take your rubbish home with you
  • If you’re coming to Brighton Pride this year, join in the Big Pride Silent Disco Beach the next day.

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