Five Cornish visitor attractions taking sustainability seriously

Tuesday 20th July, 2021

As we approach the end of Plastic Free July, Best Days Out Cornwall are showcasing some of the attractions we work with putting sustainability at the heart of what they do.

Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities. 

Cornish visitor attractions can ensure millions of visitors every year are aware of what can be done to take care of our planet, and our industry body Cornwall Association of Tourist Attractions is working with almost 40 attractions to make sure they are aware of steps they can take to improve their ethical behaviour.

We are showcasing five of the attractions we work with who are working hard to make sure they are doing as much as they can to act sustainably - these are just a handful of the actions taken by Cornish visitor attractions to make sure they're making effective changes to help our planet.

Eden Project

The Eden Project, an educational charity, connects us with each other and the living world, exploring how we can work towards a better future. Sustainability is at the heart of what they are all about and is a major part of the message they hope to convey.

The visitor destination in Cornwall, UK, is nestled in a huge crater. Massive Biomes house the largest rainforest in captivity, stunning plants, exhibitions, and stories serve as a backdrop to their striking contemporary gardens, summer concerts and exciting year-round family events. 

PK Porthcurno

PK Porthcurno have worked extensively with Tevi Cornwall to remove single-use plastics from the museum’s shop, café and offices, and have been awarded ‘Plastic Free Business Champion’ status by Surfers Against Sewage (SAS).

Planet PK, the award-winning environmental programme of PK Porthcurno have created a Plastic Free Steering Group which includes representatives from National Trust, Cornwall AONB, Cornwall Council, Minack Theatre, Porthcurno Beach Café and local residents. Working collaboratively this group aims to achieve official ‘Plastic Free Community’ status with SAS.

Planet PK also recently hosted an SAS Million Mile Clean as part of the national campaign and are continuing to organise regular beach cleans to help combat the litter issues faced due to the popularity of Porthcurno as a visitor destination.

The PK Porthcurno team have a beach clean on Thursday 22 July for Plastic Free July 9-10am which coincides with an Instagram takeover for Visit Cornwall which will raise awareness on the litter problems at Porthcurno.

Cornish Seal Sanctuary

Part of the role of the onsite team at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary is to educate the visiting public about the dangers of plastic pollution on marine wildlife.

Steps taken by the Seal Sanctuary team include:

  • Changing waste and recycling management contractor - they currently send 0% of waste into landfill
  • do not sell any single used plastic bottles on site, all drinks come in cans or glass
  • recycling bins across site
  • Changing sandwich supplier to one whose operation is carbon neutral, and all product packaging is plastic free.  
  • Use of paper straws only
  • Constantly reviewing retail products to minimise plastic – including a cuddly toy seal made entirely from recycled plastic!

National Lobster Hatchery

This pioneering marine conservation attraction in Padstow is unique in their approach, with their work entirely tied up in ensuring the sustainability of the Cornish shellfish industry. Working with global experts and renowned scientists, they conserve fragile lobster populations and help solve the sustainability issues facing our coastal communities.

They have made the following changes as they move towards becoming plastic-free:

  • Removal of plastic bags in the shop, replaced with paper ones
  • Shop merchandise moving towards plastic free
  • Selling green toys made from recycled plastic, reusable cups recycled from disposable cups and recycled ghost fishing net jewellery
  • Introduction of a pledge pole, intended for visitor to think about the small steps they can practically take to reduce plastic use
  • Plastic containers used within a large research project were recycled at the end of the project and turned into Kayaks by Odyssey Innovation.

David Lockyer, CEO of the National Lobster Hatchery, said: “Few of us are perfect when it comes to the use of plastic. However, if everyone takes simple small steps to remove plastic from everyday life so much can be achieved.”

The Minack Theatre – Plastic Free Champions

The Minack Theatre is part of the Porthcurno Plastic Free Community.  The theatre has been awarded the title of Plastic Free Champion for their commitment to reduce single use plastics on site.  The team are committed to making the Minack as sustainable as possible.

In the last two years the Minack Theatre have initiated the following steps to reduce and recycle plastic waste:

  • Replace plastic straws with paper ones.
  • Replace plastic bags with paper bags
  • Single use plastic drinking bottles replaced by canned soft drinks and water.
  • Developed own branded reusable water bottle made from sugar cane.
  • Selling reusable coffee cups with a free hot drink on purchase
  • Installed drinking water taps around the theatre and in the car park to encourage customers and staff to refill their own water bottles.
  • Using compostable disposable cups and takeaway-boxes
  • Using wooden take-away cutlery
  • Aiming to use ethically sourced and sustainable products – e.g., deli pop looks with compostable packaging.
  • Working with suppliers to provide food items that are not wrapped in plastic.
  • Purchasing cleaning products in large bulk containers and then decant them into recyclable plastic bottles for use on site
  • Floor matting is made from Econyl, a substance produced from recycling ghost fishing nets.  Once these mats have ceased to be usable at the theatre, they are recycled again into flooring for equestrian arenas.
  • All dirty waste, such as nappies, is collected and reprocessed for fuel, roads etc
  • Implementing a new waste bin system in 2020 to make recycling easier and more effective.

For more information on Plastic Free July, go to

CATA works with almost 40 of Cornwall’s top tourist attractions, ensuring the best visitor experiences are promoted across the region. They act as the voice of the Cornish visitor attraction industry and provide a supportive industry network for those working in the sector

Five Cornish visitor attractions taking sustainability seriously

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