The Big Plastic Pick Up campaign's launch is being run by The Canal and Rivers' Trust. Image: Shutterstock.
The Big Plastic Pick Up campaign's launch is being run by The Canal and Rivers' Trust. Image: Shutterstock.

The Big Plastic Pick Up

2 min


Charity announces huge environmental drive

The nation’s canal charity is launching a campaign to clean up waterways across the country. The announcement follows research showing a startling 14 million pieces of plastic end up in and around our canals every year.

The Canal and Rivers’ Trust says the clean up costs total more than £1 million. It hopes the campaign will help to put a stop to some of the 500,000 pieces of litter which end up in the sea.

The charity says many species are at risk of permanent harm from litter pollution. It’s asking people to end plastic pollution by joining the Big Plastic Pick Up.

The initiative is being led by a star-studded team of helpers including TV presenter and Strictly Come Dancing performer Neil Jones, who has pledged his support for the #PlasticChallenge campaign.

‘I’ll be partnering up with my litter picker to help out with the Canal & River Trust’s Big Plastic Pick-Up,’ says Neil.

‘Plastic and litter can be dangerous to both people and wildlife, so we urgently need to keep up the fight against it. Together we can help banish plastic rubbish by canals for good.’

Charity volunteers currently spend more than 100,000 hours each year clearing litter from towpaths.

Plastic waste: a devastating impact on wildlife

Plastic waste along the country’s waterways has a devastating impact on the precious habitats which are home to wildlife and nature, including: ducks, swans, otters, water voles, fish and amphibians.

‘It’s the little things we do on our doorstep that can make a world of difference,’ says Eoin Harris, head of environment & climate action at the Canal & River Trust.

‘We have worked out that if everyone visiting our canals and waterways picked up just one piece of plastic, the network would be clear of litter within a year.’

‘Litter has a devastating impact on the wildlife inhabiting canals and rivers. Animals get entangled in plastic packaging and can suffocate in items such as plastic bags.’

‘Creatures can cut themselves on sharp objects thrown away and the rubbish discarded damages the homes and nests that animals spend so long building.’

‘Our aim is to be plastic free as soon as possible and that’s why we’re encouraging everyone to get involved with this year’s Big Plastic Pick Up.’

The charity’s key aim is to protect 2,000 miles of historic canals and waterways in England and Wales.

Annual finds in canals can include ‘weird and peculiar items’ which have ranged from pizza delivery bikes, unlocked safes, a 16ft dead python and even the occasional car.

Project organisers say it’s the volume of the everyday pieces of plastic waste which risk overwhelming the nature along the nation’s canals and rivers.

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