The Cleaner Thames campaign partners – Port of London Authority, Thames21 and Tideway – took to the Woolwich Arsenal foreshore to clear it of nearly two tonnes of rubbish and litter that has ended up in the river.
The group of twenty-five people put on their wellies and rubber gloves to remove any thing from crisp packets and chocolate bar wrappers to larger items like shopping trolleys and mountain bikes.
With 300 tonnes of rubbish removed from the Thames every year, the Cleaner Thames campaign is looking to stop litter from entering the river in the first place and is calling on people to do the right thing and bin their litter.
Chris Coode, deputy chief executive and senior programmes manager for waterways charity, Thames21 said: “Today we worked with volunteers to remove litter which has an impact on marine life and is unpleasant for residents and river users. This litter will build up again unless we tackle the source of the problem, so we want people to dispose of their litter properly.”
James Trimmer, director of planning and environment, Port of London Authority said: “As part of the Thames Vision, the PLA and partners have committed to making the river the cleanest it’s been since the Industrial Revolution and today plays a small part in that.
“It’s a challenging goal, but there is a lot going on to make this happen across the board. You have the Thames Tideway Tunnel set to stop raw sewage entering the river, Thames21 working to clean it up, and we’re looking at improvements to air quality, including the introduction of a discount scheme to encourage use of vessels that meet high emission standards.”
A Tideway employee, the company delivering the Thames Tideway Tunnel said: “We picked up real a mix of materials today, some has probably been lying on the foreshore for a long time, whereas other pieces look to have recently entered the Thames, like these crisp packets. It really makes you think about the impact of things that may not be disposed of properly.”
Launched 12 months ago, the Cleaner Thames campaign highlights the impact of litter on marine life, with a study by Royal Holloway University of London and the Natural History Museum, showing that in a sample on the Thames, up to 75% of the bottom feeding fish, flounder, had plastics in their bellies.