CLEANER THAMES CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED
 

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A major year-long campaign has been launched urging Londoners not to dump their rubbish in the Thames.

Explorer Paul Rose launched the Port of London Authority-led campaign at a clear-up on the Isle of Dogs’ foreshore by volunteers organised by the Thames 21 charity. It aims to raise awareness of the harm that rubbish in the Thames is doing to wildlife and the importance of stopping it being dumped. 

Paul said:. “The message to people is simple: do the right thing.  Bag up your rubbish and make sure it’s disposed of properly.  If you don’t, the wind will snatch it and blow it along until it finds the water, stops dead and stays there. 

"It only comes back out again when people like the PLA, Thames21 and their volunteers come along to take it, bag it, and recycle it.  If it’s not recovered it ends up in the stomachs of seals, fish and other marine life in the river.”

Dr Dave Morritt, of Royal Holloway, University of London, oversaw a recent study of River Thames fish and says the impact of litter is clear:

He said: “The fish are eating plastics introduced into their environment by human activity. Two species of fish, flounder and smelt from Erith and Isle of Sheppey were found with plastic fibres in their guts: up to 75% of sampled flounder had plastic fibres in the gut.”

The PLA has collection vessels (above) at various points on the tidal river. Every year it recovers over 400 tonnes of rubbish. Some is heavy wood which is hazardous to ships but the vast majority is plastic of all kinds.

PLA Environment Manager Tanya Ferry said: "We get a lot of single-use plastic bottles and carrier bags, lots of cotton buds and sanitary products and increasingly containers for sandwiches and take-away meals - and these will not break down in the water."

PLA chief executive, Robin Mortimer said:  “If you’re close to the river and don’t bin your coffee cup, water bottle or sandwich wrapper properly, there’s only one place it’s going to end up.  And if we are not able to recover those plastics, they’ll ultimately end up in the scores of birds, fish and seals that the river is home to.”

The campaign is backed by groups including Thames21, Totally Thames, the Environment Agency, Thames Tideway Tunnel, London Wildlife Trust and the RSPB.  It features posters and the film above in which Paul Rose explains the scale of the problem and how people can ‘Do the Right Thing’.

Debbie Leach, CEO of Thames21 says the campaign is essential to stop a seemingly unstoppable tide of rubbish: “Our thousands of volunteers go to the Thames foreshore and do a fantastic clear up -  but when we go back a week later, the rubbish has gathered in the river once more - with countless bottles and bags to be cleared all over again.  The only way to make progress is to stop the rubbish at source: when it leaves people’s hands it needs to go in the right place, the bin.”

The campaign launch comes as Tideway gears up to start work on the Thames Tideway Tunnel, which will help tackle the 39 million tonnes of raw sewage that overflow into the River Thames in a typical year.

Story dated Sept 30th 2015