Residents being urged to tackle global plastic crisis

Residents being urged to tackle global plastic crisis

by Henry James (June 2019)

THE Canal & River Trust, the waterways and wellbeing charity that cares for 2,000 miles of canals and river navigations in England and Wales, is asking residents to do their bit to tackle the global plastics crisis.

They are urging communities to make their local neighbourhood beautiful and help tackle the problem – and are calling on locals not to 'drop it, pick it up and recycle it to help make the nation’s canals and rivers plastics free'.

The Leeds & Liverpool Canal travels through Sefton and West Lancashire.

Working with Coventry University, the charity has published a detailed analysis of the plastics and other litter found in its waterways. The research, which reviewed data from 25 locations, found that plastics now account for 59% of waste found along its canals. It estimates that 570,000 items of plastic reach the world’s oceans each year via its waterways. With the help of local communities this figure could be drastically cut.

Peter Birch, national environmental policy advisor at Canal & River Trust, said: “By taking a little care of Merseyside canals, everyone can have beauty on their doorstep. The Canal & River Trust is on a mission to eradicate plastics from our vast network of canals and rivers – helping us all to live in better, more beautiful neighbourhoods, whilst tackling a global issue, and making life better by water.”

Studies show that around 80% of the plastics and litter found in the oceans comes from inland waste that passes through water-courses around the world and out to sea.

Peter added: “Devastatingly, despite being vital green corridors in towns and cities such as our canals and rivers can inadvertently act as ‘plastics highways’, transporting rubbish from where we live out to sea. Not only is this a huge problem for wildlife, which can be harmed, it also detracts from these special and important wellbeing places in our towns and cities.

“We believe everyone deserves – and can help create - beauty on their doorstep, and by taking action locally, they will also be helping tackle a global issue.”

As canals and rivers become more accessible – the charity’s waterways in North West received over 58 million visits last year – and with almost one in five people admitting to dropping litter, a lot of this can unfortunately end up in our waterways. The vast majority of the litter found along and in the canals each year is potentially recyclable or could be re-used in creative and innovative ways.

The Trust is calling on every visitor to its waterways in North West to make their own small contribution to help keep them clear of plastics, whether by picking up and recycling a piece each time they visit, joining the Trust’s growing band of volunteers, or even adopting a short stretch of their local canal with friends, neighbours or colleagues.

The Trust, which is supporting Defra’s Year of Green Action working with #iwill4nature encouraging youth environmental action, has also published a downloadable free family plastics and litter activity pack which highlights to children the importance of taking action to prevent it.

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