Plastic Pollution and the Thames

August 29, 2017

eXXpedition Round Britain is working with some great partners during our journey around the British Isles. One of these partners is the Port of London Authority who are working hard to improve environmental conditions on the Thames, through their Cleaner Thames campaign and through supporting relevant projects, such as eXXpedition Round Britain!

In fact, the PLA’s Envionment Manager Tanya Ferry (pictured above with explorer Paul Rose, and left) is a Round Britain crew member! She tells us more:

“The Thames sits at the centre of one of the world’s major cities. The city grew from the river, and a vibrant city sustains the river too, but the Thames suffers as a result of the land use around it. Today that manifests itself in a seemingly unending tide of litter, predominantly single use plastics, which end up in the river, rather than safely in bins.

The Port of London Authority or PLA, the organisation I work for, literally ‘pick ups’ a share of this rubbish, amongst 300 tonnes of driftwood we clear from the Thames every year. The last decade has seen a marked change in what we recover. The large items, like tree branches, that were a potential hazard to ships are now mostly replaced by general rubbish – plastics bottles, food cartons, crisp packets and more besides. Individual items that people once held in their hands and, through not disposing of it properly, it somehow it ended up in the Thames. Time and time again.

And that matters. Our river is home to over 900 seals, 125 species of fish and 300,000 over wintering birds visit and feed on in its rich habitats every year. Research shows that some of the fish in the Thames now have plastics fibres in their gut – in the case of flounder, over three quarters of them are so afflicted.

As custodians of the tidal Thames, we want to leave the Thames in a better state for future generations. Tackling the problem of rubbish ending up in the river – behaviour change – is not easy. But we’re having a go.   We launched the Cleaner Thames campaign in 2015 which caught press attention and in the last few months we have partnered with environmental charity Hubbub to work on For Fishes Sake (#FFS). FFS is really getting to the cutting edge of behaviour change, through eye catching on-street interventions.

With all this work in hand, and a pressing need to understand better what is happening in our river and our seas, we are really excited to be working with Exxpedition. Sea Dragon’s research trip, and particularly the visit to London, will help us to generate further public awareness of the problem we’re facing and what we can all do to help tackle it.”

The eXXpedition crew will be visiting London from 30th August – 2nd September and we will have lots of outreach events you can get involved with, from Thames litterpicks to film screenings. Find out more on our events page!

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