Plastics in Rivers

Friday 5th April, 2019
Thanks to some high profile celebrity involvement, there is now huge media coverage and vastly improved public awareness of the problem plastics pose to our planet’s aquatic life (both marine and freshwater) and to our own food chain.

In 2004, the Foundation carried out its first litter clearing exercises on the Wye and Usk. There were two objectives: to remove some of the unsightly rubbish strewn along the riverbanks and to find out where it was coming from.

The results showed that a high proportion of the litter in the upper catchments was of agricultural origin. It consisted mostly of silage wrap, feed bags and plastic buckets. In clear-ups further downstream, litter of domestic origin became a larger proportion of the total removed.

Worryingly, despite numerous clear-ups and campaigns since 2004, a follow-up exercise last week revealed that the situation today has improved little. What’s more, studies by Cardiff University have found microplastics in water samples in the lower Wye and in half the invertebrates they sampled in the Taff.

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