Battersea volunteer group takes action against plastic pollution in River Thames

A volunteer-led environmental group in Battersea is conducting litter picks of the Thames foreshore to clear plastic waste and combat waterway pollution.

The Battersea Beach Clean group, a small team of environmentally-conscious volunteers, have taken a stand against plastic litter in their local community.

As part of a volunteer initiative with Thames 21, the team is conducting regular clean-ups along the foreshore of the River Thames, with a primary focus on removing plastic waste.

Plastic pollution within London’s river is well-documented and researchers from Royal Holloway University have estimated 94 thousand microplastics flow down the River Thames per second in some areas.

Lead organiser Sam Johnson explained she established the group after observing litter on the banks of the Thames during her riverside commute to work.

She said: “We’re all volunteers, we all work full time and we all want to make a difference to the wildlife and the community.”

In government, the tide appears to be turning as DEFRA has announced plans to introduce a UK-wide ban on wet wipes containing plastic.

A statement from the department explained the new legislation will help to tackle plastic pollution and clean up waterways.

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Wet wipes containing plastic are polluting our waterways and causing microplastics to enter the environment. 

“DEFRA will introduce legislation before the summer recess to crack down on this unnecessary source of pollution.”

Data from Thames 21 volunteer groups shows plastic wet wipes are the most common item recorded on the river foreshore.

The organisation reports wet wipe products are having a particularly concerning impact in West London, where they are creating mounds inside bends of the river which physically changes the shape and sediment type of the riverbed.

Each year, Thames 21 together with the Port of London Authority remove at least 200 tonnes of waste from the River Thames, much of it plastic.

Featured image credit: South West Londoner

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