Liverpool City Region Mayor joins efforts to create a Plastic Free Mersey catchment


The weather was kind to us when we launched our Plastic Free Mersey project on a sunny day in July and it was a blessing that we were able to gather again under clear skies on 19 November, this time along the River Alt (in the Borough of Knowsley). The project is being run by Thames21 and the Mersey Rivers Trust, funded by LyondellBasell, INOVYN, and the British Plastics Federation, and also supported by Plastics Europe, Suez, and RECOUP

This time, we ran a litter pick event to raise awareness of our work amongst representatives of the local authorities, including Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram. We wanted to demonstrate the amount and types of litter found in and around too many rivers in the UK.

Mayor Rotheram said: “We are specifically looking at a Plastic Free Mersey and we are going to make other announcements about what we want the Mersey to become. It’s great to have all of the partners, Thames21, the people from the Mersey Rivers Trust, but also the plastics manufacturers, because if we can stop it at source, it’s easier to clean up. But, given we do have a backlog to clear, it’s great that volunteers and everybody have come together today”.

Mayor Rotheram and Thames21’s CEO Debbie Leach discuss the importance of our project (Left); group photo including project funder representative Frank Rourke (INOVYN) and Knowsley Councillors along the River Alt (Photos by Rob Denson).

The Mayor stayed with us for almost an hour and joined about ten Mersey Rivers Trust volunteers’ litter pick efforts. They removed some 15 bags of litter, including a lot of plastics (e.g., food wrappers, bottles, and bags) as well as a shopping trolley, a large wheelie (purple) bin, and other large fly-tipped items from the river and its banks.

Mayor Rotheram (Left) and Knowsley Councillors (Right) doing their part during the litter pick (Photos by Rob Denson).


The litter pick lasted about two hours and hence we only scratched the surface. Several councillors joined us – Councillors Ken McGlashan and Shelley Powell and Councillor Graham Morgan – as well as two Council rangers and staff from the Council’s maintenance team. Capital Radio Liverpool interviewed Mayor Rotheram.

Volunteers at work during the litter pick along the River Alt (Photos by Rob Denson).
This is some of the litter collected by around ten people in just a couple of hours! The litter was sorted to assess how much was plastic materials (Photo by Rob Denson).

Following the litter pick, and then again on the Sunday in Kersal Wetlands (Salford), John Sanders and Mike Duddy from the Mersey Rivers Trust led the second onsite training session for volunteers. They will be collecting data on the amount, type, and distribution of litter in the various waterways of the Mersey Catchment over the next 12 months. Stay tuned to find out what the data says and what we are going to do engage the general public, industry partners, and local authorities to spur behaviour change at all levels, including to reduce littering and improve waste management in the Mersey Catchment.


Citizen science volunteers trained along the River Alt just after the event (Photo by Luca Marazzi).
Citizen science volunteers at work with John Sanders (Mersey Rivers Trust) on the River Irwell next to Kersal Wetlands (Salford) on the Sunday following the event (Photo by Luca Marazzi).