River Thames plastic pollution: London river is the second most plastic-polluted in a study of 13, report finds

Edwina Langley

The River Thames came second in a report assessing the extent of plastic contamination in 13 rivers across Britain, Greenpeace has announced.

A total of 108 pieces of plastic were found in samples, 45 pieces more than what was collected in the Aire, which came in third.

The most contaminated river, however – by a large margin – was the Mersey, which relinquished 942 pieces of plastic across all samples. This makes the north-western river proportionally more polluted with plastic than the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, holding roughly 2 million pieces of microplastic per square km, according to Greenpeace.

The rivers analysed where The Exe, Thames, Severn, Great Ouse, Trent, Mersey, Aire, Derwent, Wear, Conwy, Wye, Clyde and Lagan, and all were found to contain microplastics.

Five tested positive for microbeads as well, in spite of a partial ban introduced on the plastic particles in 2017.

Greenpeace, which conducted the report, is campaigning for the Government to set 'legally-binding plastic reduction targets' in the forthcoming Environment Bill, to reduce the current production and use of single-use plastic packaging by half, by 2025.

They are also proposing that an independent environmental watchdog be set-up to ensure these targets are met in full.