Volunteers will take part in the biggest ever community group plastic clean-up of the River Thames and its tributaries over the space of a month in an event called the ‘Plasticblitz’, which is being organised by environmental charity Thames21 for the second year running.
Thames21 will also team up with community organisation Rotary in the Thames Valley to lead a total of 40 groups to clear litter from these rivers and their banks from areas spanning from Gloucestershire to Rainham during this month.
These teams will be asked to record the data on the types of plastic litter they find in order gather evidence to help gain a better picture of the types of litter entering the Thames.
This data will feed into an EU-wide ‘Preventing Plastic Pollution’ project, which aims to understand and reduce the impacts of plastic pollution in river and marine environments via behaviour change, targeting hotspots and finding effective solutions.
Last year, groups filled 139 bin bags of plastic pollution gathered from the Thames, including a floating fake crocodile head, a large paddling pool and model R2D2. A total of 6,557 items of waste were removed from rivers and riverbanks; 72% of this waste was made of plastic. The worst offenders were drinks cans (941), plastic drinks bottles (819), cigarette stubs (616) and crisp packets (533).
We already know that globally much of the plastic found in our oceans enters via rivers, though data on litter in the freshwater environment is sparse compared to that in the marine environment. However, there is a growing body of evidence to show how bigger plastics are breaking down into microplastics and negatively impacting wildlife, nature and humans.
Debbie Leach, CEO at Thames21, said: “Our rivers are being devastated by a variety of different pollutants, including run off from road networks, sewage pollution and large quantities of plastic. Plastic litter has no place in our rivers or the natural environment. So, it is great that the Plasticblitz has brought community groups together back for the second year to raise awareness of the issue and help us gather vital evidence to push for change. Pollution is a widespread problem and we must all act together to combat it.”
Phil Fletcher, District Environmental Officer at Rotary in the Thames Valley, said: “Cleaning the river and banks is not the prime objective in the river clean-ups carried out by Rotary Clubs: the main drive is to reduce the use of single-use packaging in the first place. We must create awareness of the problem in order to end the plastic soup that gets into our oceans.”
Thames21 connects people with rivers by putting healthy rivers back at the heart of everyday life. We improve and restore rivers, educate and empower the community and campaign for positive change for the good of people and the environment.
www.thames21.org.uk | Registered Charity No. 1103997
07711 701 696
020 7248 7171