River clean-ups reveal the litter that pollutes Southend sea

21 February 2019, 16:34 | Updated: 21 February 2019, 17:20


There's a lot about plastic pollution in the news at the moment and river clean-ups along the Thames have revealed it's small pieces of litter, microplastics, that are the big problem in Southend.

The Marine Conservation Society's Beachwatch Programme say the town, where the Thames meets the sea, has more than 2,500 pieces of litter per every 100 metres surveyed.

Of those, 28% were unrecognisable, small plastic items.

Lauren Eyles, MCS Beachwatch Manager, told Heart "The proportion of single use plastic found at Southend... was slightly lower than the other areas but that's because most of the litter found was small bits and microplastics.

"We find much more unidentified, tiny plastic at these sites because the plastic has been floating around for some time. However, they may well have once been single-use. Beach cleaners are far more likely to find microplastics these days than larger identifiable items."

But she's optimistic things can be changed for the better adding: "Through industry making changes, through law changes and through individuals changes we can absolutely turn this around, but it needs dedication from all sides."

River clean events were run by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and waterways charity Thames 21 as part of the Waitrose & Partners/MCS beach and river clean programme.

Thames21 ran 20 river clean events towards the end of 2017 and into 2018 at Thames tributaries and tidal Thames sites.

The evidence was compared to MCS beach litter data from four beach cleans at Southend-on-Sea.