Volunteers will take part in the biggest community clean-up of plastic in the River Thames and its tributaries, including the River Wandle, over the next month.
“Plasticblitz” is being organised by environmental charity Thames21 for the second year.
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 the river’s source in Gloucestershire all the way to the estuary marshes at Rainham close to where the Thames enters the sea.
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 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; 72per cent 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,” Thames21 said.
“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, the chief executive at Thames21, said: “Our rivers are being devastated by a variety of different pollutants, including runoff from road networks, sewage pollution and large quantities of plastic. Plastic litter has no place in our rivers.
“So, it is great that the Plasticblitz has brought community groups back together 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.”
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