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Stop dumping rubbish in our rivers: the environmental impacts of litter

In the Thames Valley, tonnes of rubbish and litter are being found dumped in our waterways. Credit: ITV Meridian

The problem of plastic polluting the ocean is widely publicised but there's also a problem in the canals and rivers leading out to sea.

In the Thames Valley, tonnes of rubbish and litter are being found dumped in our waterways.

The Marine Conservation Society has been working to clean rivers along the Thames collecting nearly 9000 items of rubbish with around 2090 kilograms of litter just from the river banks.

Charlotte Cross headed to the Bull Brook in Bracknell to meet workers clearing up some of the mess. Watch her report below:

Plastic pollution is a growing problem for Britain's beaches, with tonnes of rubbish washing in on the tide.

Where is it all coming from?

That's what the Marine conservation Society's set out to discover.

Over the course of 6 months, they organised litter picks along the river Thames and its tributaries.

What they collected was shocking, as Lizzie Prior from the Marine Conservation Society explains:

This waterway in Berkshire is among those cleaned by the charities volunteers. So we paid a visit too, to see the problem for ourselves.

Volunteers cleaned a 100 metre section of Bull Brook in Bracknell and found over 100 pieces of litter, including plastic bottles, drinks cans and crisp packets. This is what we found in half an hour:

What we found in half an hour Credit: ITV Meridian

Around 80% of what they found was single-use plastics and cans, and this kind of litter doesn't decompose easily.

Even simple sweet wrappers can last decades.

9000
Items of rubbish collected along the Thames last year
2090kg
Litter found on river banks
80%
Litter found was single-use plastic
A public consultation has just begun on a plastic bottle Deposit Return Scheme Credit: ITV Meridian

A public consultation has just begun on a plastic bottle Deposit Return Scheme, but the charity says more is needed.

However, while new laws and schemes can help, it's the people dropping litter causing real environmental damage every day- and that's where a change in attitude could make a world of difference.