Microplastics found in Rivers Severn, Wye and Conwy

Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire/PA Images

Greenpeace says a survey of 13 UK rivers has found they all contain microplastics.

Scientists and campaigners, including Harry Potter star Bonnie Wright, sampled points along the rivers including the Exe, Thames, Great Ouse, Trent, Mersey, Aire, Derwent, Wear, Clyde and Lagan.

Of rivers which are in, or pass through, Wales the Severn, Conwy and Wye were surveyed.

Sampling on the River Severn Credit: Will Rose/Greenpeace

Greenpeace says the River Severn was found to be contaminated with 42 pieces of microplastic collected in approximately an hour.

Hollywood film star Bonnie Wright joins campaigners to investigate plastic pollution in the river Wye. Credit: Will Rose/Greepeace

10 pieces were found in the River Wye and nine in the River Conwy.

The environmental campaign group says five out of 13 rivers contained microbeads - which were partially banned in 2017.

More than half the rivers tested contained plastic pellets called ‘nurdles’, which are used as a raw material in the production of plastic products.

The highest concentrations were in the River Mersey, where 875 pieces were captured in half an hour.

Greenpeace says this makes the waterway, at the time it was sampled, proportionally more polluted than the great Pacific garbage patch, considered by scientists to be one of the most plastic-polluted expanses of water on Earth.

Sampling on the River Severn. Credit: Will Rose/Greenpeace

I’ve seen the impact that plastic pollution has on wildlife first-hand, and it’s crushing to see birds feeding plastic to their young and using it to build their nests. Greenpeace's study has discovered that the River Mersey is even more polluted than the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – surely this will galvanise us all into doing something about this.

Steve Backshall, wildlife expert