UK Waterways Face Plastic Pollution Crisis: 14 Million Pieces End Up in Canals and Rivers

UK Waterways Face Plastic Pollution Crisis: 14 Million Pieces End Up in Canals and Rivers

UK Waterways Face Plastic Pollution Crisis: 14 Million Pieces End Up in Canals and Rivers

A staggering 14 million pieces of plastic find their way into canals and rivers in England annually, with half a million of these ultimately entering the sea.

The Canal & River Trust, a charity dedicated to the preservation of waterways, reveals that it spends £1 million every year to combat plastic waste, which poses a dire threat to aquatic life, including ducks, swans, otters, fish, and the endangered water vole.

Celebrities Rally to Tackle Plastic Waste

In a bid to address this pressing issue, the Canal & River Trust has enlisted the support of various celebrities, including Strictly Come Dancing performer Neil Jones, TV presenter and singer Cerys Matthews, presenter Gaby Roslin, and celebrity chef and presenter Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Together, they are spearheading the “Big Plastic Pick Up” campaign, which encourages individuals to participate in a collective effort to clean up waterways while raising funds for the cause.

How the Campaign Works

Under the initiative, called the “Big Plastic Pick Up,” participants are invited to donate £14 to the Trust, pick up 14 pieces of litter from waterways, and encourage 14 friends to do the same.

All proceeds generated through this campaign will be directed towards sustaining the ongoing efforts to clean up and maintain 2,000 miles of canals and waterways spanning England and Wales.

The Power of Collective Action

Eoin Harris, the head of environment and climate action at the Canal & River Trust, highlights the potential impact of collective action, stating, “We have worked out that if everyone visiting our canals and waterways picked up just one piece of plastic, the network would be clear of litter within a year.

” Litter takes a severe toll on the wildlife inhabiting these areas, as animals can become ensnared in plastic packaging or injured by discarded items.

Support from Notable Figures

Joining the campaign are other notable figures, including entrepreneur Deborah Meaden, zoologist and presenter Megan McCubbin, Property Ladder star Sarah Beeny, and broadcaster Saira Khan.

Their involvement underscores the urgency of addressing plastic pollution in waterways.

A Multitude of Debris Threatens Wildlife

While unusual items such as pizza delivery bikes, unlocked safes, and even cars have been discovered in waterways, the most pressing concern remains the vast quantity of single-use plastic waste.

This continuous influx of plastic litter poses an overwhelming risk to various species that call these waterways home.

Budget Cuts Complicate Cleanup Efforts

Furthermore, the Canal & River Trust points out that recent budget cuts to its clean-up initiatives, announced by the government, exacerbate the challenge of dealing with plastic litter in waterways.

The need for sustained action and public support is greater than ever to combat this environmental crisis.

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