A lot of litter gets discarded every year, or lost from the waste system. Some of it gets cleared up but experts now think that over 8 million tonnes of plastic enters our seas from land, some will enter via the rivers and estuaries. Each estuary will have a different amount, depending on the use of the shores and its waters. 80% of the litter that ends up in the marine environment while the rest is from marine sources.
Island clean ups
The Medway is full of remote areas that have litter accumulating on them. Following a litter pick on a number of islands in September 2019, between visiting birds in the estuary, with permission from Natural England and the landowners a large, surprising amount of litter was collected.
These litter picks on the islands have expanded over the years, we needed a bigger boat in the following years and it has just got bigger and bigger, in 2021 we collected over 4 tonnes of waste.
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We will routinely record the litter we collect in order to monitor the accumulation over the year of the litter, starting on the Medway during its other survey works or specific appraisal trips to map out where the litter is in the estuary. If we are out on the estuary with other activities we note where areas are and identifying safe access with the land owners permission we set our Litter Critters to work.
You can help!
If you are out and about walking the paths and beaches of the estuaries, Record and report the litter here on our app.
Here is a helpful full photo guide from OSPAR and a field guide that can be printed on two sides of A4 to take out with you. If you are on the path at low tide, use of binoculars is helpful but not essential. We have started plotting this on our maps to help plan and implement intervention at source or where it ends up.
Litter Critter project
This project aims to collect detailed information about the litter, type and density of the Medway estuary so that we can work with policy makers to identify how to stop litter entering the estuary. In most cases we will also split what we collect by what it has been made by in order that it can be remade into other products again.
We require volunteers to help us run these events, and become clean up hosts so that we can collect more and more out of the estuary. Full training is provided on the survey methods used, we will be using methods developed by the Marine Conservation Society (who we will also provide the information to) for the North Sea and Baltic Sea region, under the OSPAR Convention- click here for the guidance.
We incorporate litter collections into other projects that we do, like the Litter Free Maritime project that focuses on a specific area; Chatham Maritime and eliminating the litter that escapes.
We are are an Ally to Toward Plastic Free Medway who are trying to eliminate the use of single use items across medway.