Marine litter is an Upstream Battle - ground-breaking campaign launched along the Clyde

We’re proud to announce the launch of our ambitious new campaign – Upstream Battle – in partnership with RECOUP and other partners, which will tackle the source of marine litter.

This marks the start of an 18-month programme of initiatives raising awareness of the part that land-based litter plays in ocean litter accumulations, and practical action to reduce the problem. The launch is backed by a range of high profile ambassadors, organisations and funders.


We were particularly delighted to announce at the launch that the campaign is also being supported by the Scottish Government.


Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, commented:

“Programmes like Blue Planet have made us all more aware of the damage that marine litter causes but it is important to remember that much of this originates on land. We are all proud of Scotland’s rivers, lochs and seas but it is vital that we protect them from litter and so I am delighted that Keep Scotland Beautiful and RECOUP are taking action to address this.”


Derek Robertson, Chief Executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said:

“We welcome the support from the Scottish Government. We’re delighted that they have come on board, along with a range of partners and other funders. Our research clearly shows that people across Scotland are deeply concerned by the amount of litter finding its way into our rivers and oceans, and now is the time to take action."


The launch of our campaign comes as our research is released which shows that 88% of people across Scotland are concerned by the extent of litter pollution in our rivers, heightened by recent media coverage and documentaries highlighting the problem of ocean waste. Recent research has estimated that 12.7 million tonnes of waste enters the marine environment every year across the globe, and the European Commission has estimated that 80% of marine waste originates from irresponsible disposal onshore.

The Upstream Battle campaign will trigger actions across the entire length of the River Clyde, from its source in the Lowther Hills in the South of Scotland, to Helensburgh and Greenock at the mouth of the Firth of Clyde. It will also include its tributaries – such as the rivers Kelvin, Leven, Avon and the White and Black Cart, and the Forth and Clyde Canal. It is estimated that 1.8 million people (approximately 35% of Scotland’s population) live in the River Clyde catchment area.

Upstream Battle is the first “source to sea” campaign of its kind in Scotland and will feature three major distinct strands of activity co-ordinated by Keep Scotland Beautiful, which focus on raising awareness and inspiring action. These are:

  • significant community engagement, working with groups along the Clyde valley, making people aware of the problem of marine litter and how to keep the Clyde clean
  • a ‘citizen science’ project to empower thousands of people in the Clyde Valley to clean up and identify the litter along the banks of their local river
  • a schools programme to help educate young people about the path litter takes from source to sea


Blue Planet cameraman Doug Allan, who will helped formally launch the Campaign in Glasgow said:

“It’s hugely satisfying to see the part that the Blue Planet 2 series has played in heightening awareness of this devastating problem for the marine environment. I'm equally proud that it's my native Scotland that's setting the pace in recognising the scale of the problem, and taking practical steps to address it.

"It’s never been more important to look after our planet. What we do on land directly affects the health of our rivers and our seas and everything that lives in them. It’s time to get serious about the source of marine litter, and I’m delighted to be supporting Upstream Battle.


So far, partner funders of the Upstream Battle campaign, which is managed by Keep Scotland Beautiful and RECOUP, include the Scottish Government, Crown Estate Scotland, ScotMid Cooperative and RCP/bpi. It is supported by a broad range of public agencies, as well as some high-profile ambassadors:

  • Doug Allan – Scottish cameraman from Blue Planet, and internationally renowned wildlife film-maker
  • Elaine Hopley – Scottish ocean rower who is one of 15 women to row solo across the Atlantic
  • Martin Compston – Award-winning “Line of Duty” actor and Greenock local


Throughout the campaign, Keep Scotland Beautiful and RECOUP will be working closely with local authorities in the Clyde valley who cover the river catchment area.

Stuart Foster, Chief Executive of RECOUP, said:

“RECOUP are delighted to be working collaboratively with Keep Scotland Beautiful on such a key issue. Raising awareness of the source of litter that ends up in our rivers and oceans is crucial to future behaviour change. This initiative will empower people and address the problem of land-based litter which could find its way into water courses feeding into the Clyde.”

There are plenty of opportunities to get involved during the course of the campaign. Email us to get involved and sign up to our Upstream Battle newsletter to stay updated.

25 October 2018

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