Litter survey shows extent of problem on River Tay

Single use plastics are among the top 10 items polluting the banks and water of the River Tay according to the findings of a survey highlighted in a recent report.

Mark Dowie
Friday, 17th June 2022, 12:09pm
Litter survey shows extent of problem on River Tay

More than 3000 items of litter were counted along the course of the river by volunteers last year, according to the study carried out by environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful. The report on marine litter found that more than 3000 items were counted along the river last year, a situation which is causing a real crisis for the marine environment.

Of the refuse found at sea, 80% starts on land and endangers wildlife, damages habitats and also threatens human safety. Litter dropped in, or on, the banks of waterways accumulates and could flow to the sea.

Over the last three years the charity’s award-winning Upstream Battle campaign has supported communities along the River Tay, including Broughty Ferry, and the Clyde to gather evidence and raise awareness of the issue.

The report includes data from litter surveys carried out on the banks of the Tay and its tributaries by community groups.

Key findings included cigarettes being top of the list of items found. Plastic, such as snack packets, and foil wrappers were also in the top 10 of the litter found, demonstrating a problem with how single-use items are consumed.

Sewage-related debris, including wet wipes and period products, are also causing a huge problem.

Barry Fisher, Keep Scotland Beautiful CEO, said: “If we want to get rid of marine litter we need to understand how, where and what types of litter are getting into our local waterways and this report really highlights the level of the problem on the Tay. The data gathered will help build a wider picture of the litter out there and its potential impact, allowing us to target the problem effectively.”

Councillor John Alexander, Dundee City Council leader, added: “It was very positive to support the launch of Upstream Battle on the Tay. It’s critical we continue to receive buy-in from all to help us take the required action to prevent litter from entering the River Tay from land and the damaging effects it can have.

“The publication of this report and survey are welcomed and contribute towards tackling litter and changing the behaviour behind littering.”

Brian Lironi, Scottish Water's corporate affairs director, said: "We can all do more to prevent marine litter entering our water systems by stopping it at source to protect our environment and getting into the water cycle. Our work to encourage people to carry reusable bottles to reduce single-use plastic bottles and ask customers to bin wet wipes rather than flushing highlights simple steps we can all take in and around our homes and daily lives to reduce our impact on the planet. Behaviour changes combined with legislative steps like banning wet wipes which contain plastic can make a real difference."

Find out how you can get involved with the campaign and carry out your own survey for Upstream Battle at​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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