Lancashire Times
Weekend Edition
7:50 PM 31st October 2020

Help Canal Charity Tackle Plastics As Littering Figures Soar Since Start Of Pandemic

Waterways and wellbeing charity Canal & River Trust has recorded a huge rise of littering along its Yorkshire and North East towpaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

The Trust is now calling on people across England & Wales to do their bit and help stop half a million pieces of plastic reaching the ocean by pledging to join its Plastics Challenge.

In the last six months the charity has seen a huge 136% increase in reports from the public about unsightly litter on towpaths and in its canals and river across the Yorkshire and North East region. Figures show that reports have also more than doubled during the month of June this year, compared with the same time last year.

The increase is likely to be down to an increased public awareness of the plastics issue and the fact that in towpath usage has dramatically increased during the coronavirus lockdown – with people staying local and discovering their local canal towpath for the first time.

In Yorkshire and the North East, usage of the towpath has increased dramatically in some areas such as York, Pocklington, Stockton-on-Tees and on the newly laid surface along the Craven area of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. This is partially due to more people turning to their canals as calm, picturesque places to exercise.

Many families will be looking for activities to do over the coming months and the Canal & River Trust’s Plastics Challenge offers an opportunity for people to get outdoors and make a big difference to their local area. If every time someone visited their local canal or river they picked up and disposed of just one piece of plastic, within a year there would be no plastic left.

Sean McGinley, director Yorkshire & North East at Canal & River Trust, said:
“Every year 14 million pieces of plastic end up in and around our canals and rivers and these plastic bottles, food wrappers, bags and straws can be harmful for the fish, swans, ducks and birds that make the canals their home.

“By making a pledge to support our Plastics Challenge and taking part in a litter pick with your family, or on your own as part of your daily exercise, you are making a commitment to helping the local wildlife too.”

Whilst people need to carefully follow Government guidelines on social distancing and washing their hands, the Trust is asking visitors to carry out a short litter pick while enjoying some exercise at their local canal or river. To ensure everyone takes part in the challenge safely it’s created a handy guide which can be downloaded from the Canal & River Trust website.

Please make sure you wear gloves or use a litter picker if you have one, and please take home what you collect and recycle what you can.

To make a pledge to support the Canal & River Trust’s Plastics Challenge, visit or follow us on social media @CanalRiverTrust #PlasticsChallenge

The charity would love to hear from people who have taken the challenge and is encouraging people to share their photos on social media with the #PlasticsChallenge