National Marine Aquarium

The Barbican

Our Plastic Free culture

The National Marine Aquarium is the Ocean Conservation Trust’s window to the Ocean and is an essential element in the delivery of all of our conservation work.

The charity has been running the UK’s largest charitable aquarium since 1998. The Aquarium was the first UK aquarium set up specifically to further learning, research and conservation of the marine environment.

As the charity is all about people, through their work they have connected over six million people with the Ocean in the Aquarium and delivered 40,000 curriculum linked education sessions.

The Ocean Conservation Trust – via the National Marine Aquarium – is spearheading the ‘Connect’ element of Plymouth Plan for Plastic, working with staff in the Aquarium and in partnership with external stakeholders to build a more sustainable approach to the use of plastics, with a particular focus on single-use.

This approach is in line with the Trust’s mission to connect people with the Ocean, encouraging people to explore, experience and enjoy the Ocean in the local area.

They run a regular programme of activities and events across the South West, including beach cleans and activities with a clear environmental plastics message.

Using optimism to inspire the people of Plymouth and beyond to become a part of the solution to plastic pollution, they are proud to host regular talks and shows on the topic both inside the NMA and at events across the South West, helping the public to understand how plastics make their way into the Ocean, the problems it is causing, and what they can do to help.

Over 40,000 school children have now participated in the popular ‘Plastic Seas’ workshop since it was launched, both through the learning programme based on site at the National Marine Aquarium and through the National Schools Outreach programme, which currently works with schools in the North East and in South Wales.

Over the past four years, the team has also run over 100 beach cleans with the community at beaches around Plymouth, with additional staff beach cleans held regularly on Teats Hill Beach, located close to the NMA.

As part of their commitment to diminishing plastic pollution in Plymouth, they have significantly reduced the amount of single-use plastics used on site at the Aquarium – particularly in the café and retail areas – removing plastic straws and cups in the café and replacing them with paper and corn-starch alternatives and swapping out single-use plastic bottles for glass.

The Ocean Gift Shop has also made significant strides towards going plastic free, now stocking a sustainable range of bamboo coffee cups, lunchboxes and beeswax sandwich wraps. The shop no longer makes plastic bags available to customers, giving out paper versions instead, and has dramatically reduced the number of plastic toys and gifts it sells. The team also works extensively with suppliers to reduce the amount of plastic packaging it receives.

About our business

The National Marine Aquarium (NMA) is the UK’s largest aquarium, located in Britain’s Ocean City.

It is proudly part of the Ocean Conservation Trust, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the Ocean.

The Aquarium is home to over 4,000 animals and groundbreaking Ocean conservation work.

Key information