Food wrappers make up ‘almost a quarter of lightweight plastic in Thames’

Skyscrapers and office buildings pictured from across the River Thames (AFP via Getty Images)
Skyscrapers and office buildings pictured from across the River Thames (AFP via Getty Images)

Food wrappers make up almost a quarter of lightweight plastic found in the Thames, research reveals.

Data from the Zoological Society reveals that food wrappers comprise 20 per cent of the litter found scattering the foreshores of the 215-mile river.

Cotton bud sticks made up around 16 per cent of the waste discovered, while plastic cups made up about nine per cent.

Meanwhile, bottle lids and takeaway containers comprised eight per cent of rubbish.

The main types of discarded plastics overall are wet wipes. Researchers found that the worst hotspot for wipes is Hammersmith Bridge Southside, followed by Fulham Football Club and Battersea Bridge in third place.

The government said last year that it was considering options for reducing the damage caused by wet wipes, including a possible ban on those containing plastic.

Boots pledged earlier this year to stop selling all wet wipes containing plastic by the end of the year. In February Tesco said it would no longer sell baby wipes containing plastic.

Around 90 per cent of the 11 billion wet wipes used every year in the UK contain plastic, and end up in rivers and on beaches when flushed.

Piotr Prazych, commercial director at Barratt West London, which examined the research, said: The study brought to light the items that should not be residing in the Thames - that could have very easily been recycled instead.

“We hope this new knowledge of how much waste is in the river will make a lot of people think twice about dumping rubbish into the Thames.”

The full study can be found here: Deep Dive: the surprising, intriguing, and downright wacky things found in the River Thames (