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Earth Day: A little plastic goes a long way

This Earth Day, we’re focusing on one of the biggest issues affecting the health of our wonderful waterways: plastic pollution.

Rebecca Duncan


As part of our Preventing Plastic Pollution Project, we’ve launched a new animation “A little plastic goes a long way” to demonstrate the journey of plastic waste from source to sea. The video shows a plastic bottle, dropped by a riverbed on a mountainside, which travels all the way down to the seashore.

Produced in collaboration with Tinmouse Studios, the animation aims to show how litter can be carried downstream from inland areas and ultimately end up in seas and oceans. The Rivers Trust and the 17 other PPP project partners want to mobilise each and every one of us to take a further step in our everyday lives to prevent plastic pollution at its source.

Barry Bendall, Operations Director at The Rivers Trust, said: “Around 80% of all litter found in oceans is from a land source[i], and it is estimated that there could be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050[ii]. These numbers are stark, and they demonstrate that tackling the mountain of plastic waste is a global issue which requires engagement at all levels and across borders.

“Many of us are – rightly – horrified by footage of plastic pollution in oceans shown by shows like Blue Planet, but we need to recognise that protecting river environments is crucial too. We can’t protect one without the other, as this video clearly shows.”

Marie-Amélie Neollier, PPP Project Manager at the Office français de la biodiversité, adds: "In France, the estimated national average for waste per 100m of coastline is 446. We are all affected by this pollution that we see along rivers and on beaches.”

By working in partnership with organisations, including universities, councils, government bodies, and rivers trusts in both England and France, PPP is finding new ways to map and better understand the journey of plastic waste through rivers and ultimately drastically reduce the amount of plastic reaching the sea.

Working with schools and community groups, the partnership has already started ridding rivers and coastal areas of plastic waste. To date, PPP has delivered over 100 community engagement events: it has worked with students to co-design plastic waste collectors, installed new plastic recycling bins, and organised river clearance events.

To find out more about our work in Preventing Plastic Pollution, please visit the project website.

[i] Eunomia, 2016:
[ii] World Economic, Forum, 2016:
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