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It's not exactly breaking news that plastic pollution in the ocean is a huge problem. Who could forget when David Attenborough showed us an albatross trying to feed its young pieces of plastic on Blue Planet II?
But one lad's family company has been quietly working to do their bit to help. In fact, 23-year-old Tom Caddick's great-grandfather was plugging away at the issue long before it reached the mainstream.
So far the family have removed more than two million tonnes of plastic and other rubbish from oceans around the world.
Back in the 1960s, Francis Caddick, from Liverpool, invented a boat called the Water Witch that skimmed bits of plastic and other debris off the water so it could be taken away. Fifty years later, the family business is still going strong.
Speaking to LADbible, Tom said: "We are now a fourth generation family business; the first Water Witch was invented by my great-grandfather. He had a company called Bootle Barge - he was responsible for taking waste and cargos from ships in the Liverpool docks and transporting it away using his barges.
"He invented the Water Witch as there was always so much rubbish in the docks and nobody had any easy methods of removing it, so he designed a boat which could deal with all the rubbish quickly and easily, to keep the docks clean."
The boat spawned a Water Witch family business, where Tom now works alongside his dad Ian, who is the head engineer at the company, to carry on improving their boats.
He said: "Fast forward to the present day, and we have made over 200 vessels and sent them all around the world - each designed to remove plastics and other debris from the water.
"We are very proud of the fact that our vessels have removed more than 2,168,990 tonnes of plastics and other debris from the marine environment over the past 50 years and we hope to increase this number as much as possible!"
For now, Tom and his dad have developed their latest device, the Versi-Cat.
Tom explained: "This is a multi-purpose boat, but it's main purpose is to act as a 'trash skimmer' collecting plastics between its hulls in a removable basket - it can hold up to 1000kg of the stuff.
"Once the Versi-Cat is full, the whole basket between the hulls can be lifted out and emptied into a skip or wherever else you want it. The plastics that are clean enough can be recycled and other things are responsibly disposed of.
"They are mostly operated by marinas, harbour authorities and environmental groups in 32 different countries.
"I myself work closely with my father who is our head engineer. We are always trying to improve our designs as well as developing new methods of removing plastics form the marine environment."
With a reported 4.8 to 12.7 million tonnes of plastic entering the ocean each year, it's still good going for a small business from the North West - imagine if more of these devices were used around the world?
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