Runners and flip flops washing up on west coast beaches

Beaches at Valentia, Fanore, Donegal and Connemara also hit by invasive footwear

Beaches at Valentia, Fanore, Donegal and Connemara have also reported coming across the footwear. Photograph: Liam MacNamara

Beaches at Valentia, Fanore, Donegal and Connemara have also reported coming across the footwear. Photograph: Liam MacNamara

 

Runners and flip flops have been washing up along Irish beaches for the past month after an unspecified amount of containers spilled off a Maersk Shanghai ship near North Carolina last year.

Beaches at Valentia, Fanore, Donegal and Connemara have also reported coming across the footwear. And they have also reached Cornwall in the UK, Brest and Brittany in France, the Azores, parts of Spain and Jersey.

Liam MacNamara of Burren Shores Beachcombing and More confirmed the companies responsible, Great Wolf Lodge and Just Speed have been contacted. “I have a contact in Florida who took up the case for me and he made contact with the companies . . . Just Speed and Great Wolf Lodge have confirmed that they had a shipment on that boat.”

Nike have also been contacted regarding the lost containers but said “they weren’t aware of any containers that were missing”.

Mr MacNamara is concerned at the potential environmental impact of plastic footwear in the oceans having seen bite marks on several pairs in Fanore.

Nike have also been contacted regarding the lost shipments but said “they weren’t aware of any containers that were missing”. Photograph: Liam MacNamara
Nike have also been contacted regarding the lost shipments but said “they weren’t aware of any containers that were missing”. Photograph: Liam MacNamara

“Most of the soles themselves are made from plastic. The material side of it wouldn’t be overly harmful because that would break down, but the plastic of course never breaks down. And it just gets smaller and smaller, eventually it could end up in fish.”

The clean-up now falls upon volunteers. In 2015, ink cartridges belonging to Hewlett Packard washed up on beaches and the American multinational company later made a donation to environmental groups as an apology. But in this instance Mr MacNamara is not optimistic of a similar contribution being forthcoming.

“It’s left to volunteers to [sort this out], generally that is what happens. Back when there was the HP ink cartridges, Hewlett Packard did . . . take responsibility,” he said.

Mr MacNamara added that HP also distributed envelopes so that if cartridges were found they could be returned. “And they did give a donation at the time to different environmental agencies and programmes. [But] I’m not holding my breath that anything like this will happen.”