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SSE Airtricity has teamed up with not-for-profit Sick of Plastic campaign and the National Geographic Society to bring the spectacular Planet or Plastic? photographic exhibition to Northern Ireland for the first time.

The exhibition tells the story behind plastic from its invention just over a century ago to its current mass consumption through visual storytelling with multimedia elements including profound images as well as powerful infographics and videos. This man-made material has revolutionized medicine and eased space travel—it also extends the shelf life of fresh food, allows for the delivery of clean drinking water to those without it, and when used in airbags or helmets, saves lives. Yet, despite its utility and convenience, an exorbitant amount of plastic products are disposed of improperly with some 6.3 billion tons of plastic waste left unrecycled.

Plastic waste has been found in the ocean from the Arctic to the Antarctic and from the surface to the seafloor. Hundreds of species of marine animals have been reported to have ingested or become entangled in it. It’s negatively impacting our ecosystems and resulting in traumatic environmental effects. Through powerful imagery, Planet or Plastic? makes the important case for the need to find a balance between using this material and protecting our environment. Additionally, the exhibition provides actionable steps visitors can take in their lives to responsibly reduce, reuse, recycle, and refuse products with single-use plastic.

Planet or Plastic? opens at Hamilton Dock on the Maritime Mile Belfast, an initiative developed by  Maritime Belfast Trust, on 4 September and runs until 28 September with entry to the family friendly exhibition free of charge.

Leanne Sheill, Marketing Manager SSE Airtricity said, “We’re really proud to partner with Sick of Plastic and the National Geographic Society to bring this inspiring exhibition to Ireland. SSE Airtricity is committed to helping build a greener, more sustainable world and partnering with organisations who share our vision is really important to us. This partnership builds on the work we are already doing with other sustainability partners, including our Eco Explorers Trail at Dublin Zoo, educating children on the importance of sustainability. We believe the Planet or Plastic? exhibition will inspire an even more positive reaction to protect our beautiful planet.”

Lyndsey O’Connell, Sick of Plastic Campaign Lead, said, “According to the world economic forum plastic production is set to quadruple by 2050 and that’s why it is more important than ever to tackle the issue head on. We need to reduce, reuse and refuse plastic. I hope the Planet or Plastic? exhibition will inspire the change we need to save our planet and I’m delighted that we’ve had the opportunity to partner with SSE Airtricity on bringing the exhibition to Belfast.”

Kathryn Keane, Vice President of Public Programming at the National Geographic Society, said “Plastic pollution is one of the most important global environmental challenges of our generation. But it is an issue that we can all do something about. This exhibition informs us about how we got here, the scope of the problem, and how we can each be a part of the solution. National Geographic has made a commitment to reducing our reliance on single-use plastics and our hope is that after seeing this exhibition visitors worldwide will join us in that commitment.”

Kerrie Sweeney, Chief Executive of Maritime Belfast Trust,  who developed the award winning Maritime Mile initiative in association with the Belfast Harbour, Odyssey Trust and Titanic Quarter Limited, added: “Maritime Belfast Trust is privileged to partner with SSE Airtricity, the Sick of Plastic campaign and the National Geographic Society on the Planet or Plastic? photographic exhibition, which will be located at Hamilton Dock on the Maritime Mile throughout September.  This exhibition not only reflects our mission  of preserving  and promoting Belfast’s rich maritime heritage for the enjoyment of current and future generations and in doing so contribute to sustainable social and economic development,  but very much reflects  our core value of caring about people, heritage and the environment. We look forward to working with and building on this very important sustainable partnership.”