We run over 250 ‘canal clean-up’ work parties every year through our branches and have been trying for over 20 years to address the problem of litter in our waterways. We held our first Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) Clean Up back in 1997. Since 2012, we have been running a sustained programme of canal clean-ups across the majority of our branches, taking in excess of 400 tonnes of plastic and other rubbish out of canals in that time.
We firmly believe in the concept of “act local” and support Canal & River Trust’s idea that if every visitor picked up and recycled just one piece of plastic each time they visited, the canals and rivers could be plastic free in a year. If anyone is interested in keeping their local stretch of canal clear of litter, they are welcome to join one of our ‘canal clean-up’ events where all litter-picking tools and safety equipment will be provided. For more information, or to contact your local IWA branch, take a look here.
Much of the litter that ends up in the rivers and canals has been blown there from the land, although boaters are also guilty of dropping litter from boats. We are actively encouraging our members and the wider boating community to be aware of how they dispose of their litter to ensure it doesn’t find its way into the water. As part of our Gaptracker Campaign, we are calling for better rubbish collection and recycling facilities along the waterways. Rubbish collection facilities should be situated at least every five hours of cruising time apart, which isn’t always the case. Often where there are rubbish bins, they aren’t emptied frequently enough and the overflowing rubbish ends up in the water. We are working with all relevant Navigation Authorities, including Canal & River Trust to overcome these issues.
Ivor Caplan, IWA National Chairman says “Our members are already very aware of the problem of litter in rivers and canals. We often hear tales from boaters of propellers that have to be freed from plastic bags. At IWA, we are looking to reduce overall plastic usage and we are ensuring all our events are now single-use plastic free. This started at this year’s Canalway Cavalcade and was very successful. IWA is more than happy to accept Canal & River Trust’s Plastic Challenge and looks forward to seeing a marked difference in the amount of litter in the UK’s rivers and canals in the future.”