Environmental charity Thames21 has launched a unique initiative – Plastics Action – to help upscale grassroots community groups tackling plastic pollution in rivers across England.
Each year, 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced and 40% of that is single use – plastic that is only used once before it’s binned – or worse, littered.
Once littered, it finds its way into drains, watercourses and, ultimately, our oceans, where it gradually breaks down into microplastics.
Working with partners from local volunteers to regional charities and national NGOs, as well as with university academics and government representatives, the project will allow partners to come together to find solutions to tackle the country’s rising tide of polluting plastic.
The three-year initiative, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, will also aim to increase community clean-ups and evidence gathering, and boost community awareness of the importance of managing single-use plastics.
‘Plastics Action fits perfectly with our aim to empower and support people in communities to understand, engage with and take practical action to take care for and benefit from the rivers and streams in their neighbourhood.
‘The project’s goal is to create a step-change in the scale of opportunities that are available for people across the country to work together in their communities, brought together through a common interest in their local river and a shared goal to improve it for themselves and for others in their community.
‘Plastic pollution is an ongoing and serious threat to rivers across the country and the world. Our approach is one of multi-stakeholder action – no one single tool will fix this pervasive issue. We need policymakers to enforce legislation to tackle the problem, we need manufacturers to produce widely recyclable products and reduce production of unnecessary single-use plastics, and we need consumers to get on board, reduce the number of single-use plastic items they buy, and dispose of their waste responsibly – and act as advocates for change.’
The issue of plastic in the oceans has received a lot of attention in recent years, but the environmental challenges faced by rivers and the freshwater environment are also concerning, as they serve as the main route for plastic waste from the land into the ocean.
The project will focus on five trial locations – London, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Manchester/Stockport, East Anglia and Bristol.
The Plastics Action Steering Group will be chaired by Keep Britain Tidy CEO Allison Ogden-Newton OBE.
‘We know that plastic pollution is something that millions of people across the country are concerned about so I am delighted to be chairing this important group as we explore new and innovative ways to tackle the problem at every level.’
ALLISON OGDEN-NEWTON OBE
Keep Britain Tidy CEO
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