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New River Thames ‘source to sea’ pollution data finds majority of litter found is single-use



Over 60% of litter would disappear from Thames basin if we moved away from single-use items say the Marine Conservation Society and Thames21

A series of river cleans along the Thames and its tributaries has revealed that more than 80% of litter found in the Thames, and 78% on its tributaries, was made up of single-use items such as metal drink cans, food packaging and plastic drinks bottles.

The events were run by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and waterways charity Thames21 as part of the Waitrose & Partners/MCS beach and river clean programme. The analysis also gives a snapshot of the source to sea pathway for litter and the way it breaks down over time.

Thames21 ran 20 river clean events towards the end of 2017 and into 2018 at Thames tributaries and tidal Thames sites. The evidence was compared to MCS beach litter data from four beach cleans at Southend-on-Sea.Depending on which part of the Thames the cleans-up took place, different items predominated. Metal drinks bottles were commonly found on the tributaries, but fewer were found on the Thames foreshore. Wet wipes were found in huge numbers during the clean-ups on the Thames foreshore, whilst glass and unrecognisable plastic litter dominated at the estuary cleans.

The concentration of litter items found per 100m rose as the Thames made its way towards the sea, due to the increased opportunity for humans to influence the ecosystem.

16 events took place at Thames tributaries including the river Lea in Hackney, the Bear Brook in Aylesbury, and the river Brent in Neasden. On the tributaries, volunteers found that 78% of the items they picked up were single-use with an average of 219 pieces of rubbish collected for every 100m surveyed. The four events on the Thames Foreshore found that 86% of the litter items recorded were single-use with a higher concentration of items found – an average of 1,402 per every 100m surveyed.

At Southend-on-Sea, where the Thames meets the sea, just under half of all items found (48%) were recognisably single use, but the concentration of small pieces of litter increased further, with a huge 2,520 items per every 100m surveyed.

Of those 2,520 items, 560 (28%) were unrecognisable, small plastic items. Lauren Eyles, MCS Beachwatch Manager, says that the proportion of single use plastic was harder to measure at estuary and coastal sites as the plastic has already broken down: “We find much more unidentified, tiny plastic at these sites because the plastic has been floating around for some time. However, they may well have once been single-use. Beach cleaners are far more likely to find microplastics these days than larger identifiable items.

Both MCS and Thames21 are calling for a Deposit Return Scheme which has been shown to cut not just plastic pollution but from other materials too such as metal and glass.

These findings clearly show that we urgently need a Deposit Return Scheme, as well as alternatives to single-use,’ said Debbie Leach, CEO of Thames21. ‘Eighty per cent of the waste we found on the Thames foreshore, and nearly the same amount on the tributaries would disappear if we moved away from single-use items; and one way to do this is through a DRS.’

The urgent problem of wet wipes, which often contain plastic, was also revealed in the report – making up 77 per cent of all items removed on the tidal Thames foreshore, and an average of 1,000 at the 4 cleans that took place.

Lauren Eyles says the data from these cleans will give the charity a more complete picture of the source to sea journey of litter: “Rivers are being harmed by a variety of different pollutants, including large amounts of plastic. Eighty per cent of ocean litter comes from land, channelled there by our rivers.

Tor Harris, Head of CSR, Health & Agriculture for Waitrose & Partners, said: “The marine and river environment is important to all of us which is why we we’re delighted to have partnered with MCS for their ‘Source to Sea’ programme. The evidence will help us, and others, focus on reducing pollution from materials such as plastics. Our customers are very engaged in the issue of plastic pollution, so initiatives like this help both customers and Partners get actively involved in addressing the problem and finding alternatives to single-use plastic.

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Veterans take part in Hadrian’s Wall trek to raise funds for their ‘Red Sea family’



A group of veterans from Scuba Diving rehabilitation charity Deptherapy have pledged to take part in a 40 mile expedition-style trek along historic Hadrian’s Wall this July to raise funds for the staff at Egyptian dive centre and resort Roots Red Sea.

The dive centre in El Quseir has been closed since the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic last Spring and with Egypt now on the red list for UK travellers it is unlikely to be able to re-open in the near future. UK couple Steve and Clare Rattle, who own Roots Red Sea, have been supporting the 16 staff of the dive centre and their families but faced with an ever increasingly uncertain future, the Deptherapy beneficiaries wanted to add their support too.

Roots Red Sea is Deptherapy’s home from home in Egypt and the location where the charity’s majority of overseas training courses and expeditions are held. The facilities at the Egyptian dive centre and resort are a perfect fit for the charity offering an ideal combination of self-contained and fully adapted accommodation, as well as a team of highly trained staff.

Deptherapy normally runs 2-3 trips to Roots Red Sea each year but recent and planned trips continue to be a casualty of Covid. For the time being, training has shifted to UK waters, but their Egyptian family is never far from the minds of the Deptherapy Team.

“We’re hoping to raise £3,000 for the staff at Roots to support their families due to hardship caused by the pandemic,” explains Tom Oates, Deptherapy Divemaster, Ambassador and former Scots Guard.

“Deptherapy has been a lifeline for so many of us beneficiaries and an essential part of that journey has been our scuba diving adventures at Roots Red Sea. We view the staff at Roots as part of our extended families. They have become close friends. The welcome, service and care we are shown is unbelievable but now it is our turn to give something back. The staff at Roots have given us everything and have helped to save and change our lives. Now, they need our support.”

“This is an amazing endeavour from the guys at Deptherapy,” says Steve Rattle, who is organising the logistics of the trek which is planned to stretch over several days. “We have supported the charity for many years; it’s always been a delight to have them come to Roots and to see them really benefit from the experience. Now the tables are turned, and it is the families of Roots that are in need of help. It is really humbling to have Team Deptherapy now raising money for them. Awesome effort!”

The fundraiser is scheduled to take place from 12th -16th July 2021 starting from Heddon on the Wall in the east to Lenercost in the west. The route has been designed to take in a variety of features including many historical sites such as the Roman Army Museum at Greenhead.

Please give generously to sponsor Team Deptherapy in their quest to raise £3000 for the families of Roots Red Sea at the special JustGiving Page:

For more information about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education visit

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email

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