Plastic problem not just at sea

Public urged to help care for the canal network around Stratford. Photo: Mark Williamson.

THE big clean up begins as three local groups commit to ridding Stratford of its plastic pollution menace on local rivers and canals.

Rubbish Friends, Stratford Waterways Environment Enhancement Partnership (SWEEP) and Avon Navigation Trust have agreed to hold a meeting on 23rd July to discuss the best way forward to tackle the problem of discarded plastic on canals and rivers in the area.

A recent national survey by Canal and River Trust (CRT) concluded that 14 million items of plastic end up in canals and rivers each year some of this finds its way into the oceans; Stratford was included as part of that the CRT survey.

The charity is now encouraging the public to pick up just one piece of plastic each time they visit the tow paths with the target of making canals and rivers plastic free within in a year.

Robin Sankey, chairman of SWEEP said the plastic rubbish problem is caused by “sheer laziness.”

“There are already clean-ups on the River Avon and on our canals but we’re now looking to launch a joint initiative so we can raise awareness of the litter problem. We can usually clean-up riverbanks and tow paths but some areas are more difficult to reach and require us to use the SWEEP boat to collect discarded plastic. I have no idea why people drop litter, I think it’s just sheer laziness,” Robin Sankey said.

The three groups attending July’s meeting have said volunteers are welcome to help join the cause.

Peter Birch, national environmental policy advisor at Canal & River Trust, says: “By taking a little care of their local waterway, 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.”