98 days to help prevent plastic pollution in the River Tamar

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River Tamar - Braunder, Lockeridge

An environmental charity is urging people who live, work or simply love the River Tamar to help prevent single-use plastic (SUP) entering the river this summer.

As part of its work in the €14m Preventing Plastic Pollution (PPP) project, involving key partners in England and France to avert plastic hotspots in the Channel, Westcountry Rivers Trust (WRT) is calling on people to take part in its #WhatSUP98 campaign.

Project manager Andy Rogers said last month: “We’d love to see people join in and make a promise from World Environment Day on Saturday 5 June to stop using, or find an eco-friendlier alternative to, the SUP in their lives for at least 98 days – a day for each kilometre of the river.”

Ideas to support the campaign include picking up 98 pieces of SUP litter and disposing of correctly; joining one of WRT’s PPP river/beach cleans and removing 98 nurdles; and using SUP alternatives for 98 days such as shampoo bars rather than bottles.

In 2020, the WRT PPP team collected more than 1,200 food-related SUP items in just seven local litter picks, while in 2021 in just one day at four highway locations they cleared 26 kg of SUP, all of which could have ended up in the River Tamar and then out to sea.

Globally, about 80% of plastic pollution comes from land sources and approximately four million tonnes of plastic waste enter the sea via rivers every year.

Andy added: “Little is known about the extent of this pollution and the understanding of its origin but by taking part in our #WhatSUP98 campaign, people can provide valuable insight for our PPP research.

“We hope they will also learn more about the impact SUP has on the River Tamar and the habitats and wildlife it supports and participation will bolster or inspire a long-term desire to lessen personal SUP use.”

In the Tamar catchment, WRT is working alongside Plymouth City Council, University of Plymouth and the Environment Agency to deliver the PPP project with the participation of individuals, communities and businesses to reduce or stop plastics entering the Tamar from source to sea.

To find out more about #WhatSUP98 and/or to make a promise, visit https://wrt.org.uk/project/preventing-plastic-pollution-whatsup98/ or call 01579 372140 to chat with Andy.

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The Tamar Valley AONB

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