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Baseline data along the River Irvine

Three members of our Campaigns team were out and about in Irvine recently to undertake litter surveys along the Irvine River.

With 80% of marine litter coming from land, our Upstream Battle® campaign focuses on raising awareness, gathering evidence and inspiring action to change littering behaviour to prevent marine litter at source along rivers in Scotland.

During our Irvine data day we completed 26 surveys along the paths on the river’s edge, recording 2,063 individual items, over half of which were plastic.   

Cigarettes were the most commonly recorded items while eight of the top 10 items related to food and drink on-the-go packaging. However, many of these items could be addressed under a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) or effective Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations 

The top 10 items found were: cigarettes; plastic drinks bottles; plastic snack packets; plastic pieces; paper food containers; drinks cans; wooden forks and lolly sticks; plastic food containers; foil wrappers; and paper coffee cups. 

The surveys were undertaken at low tide, and one of our most interesting finds was when we compared areas of the harbourside prom with directly below along the waterline. We found 376 items over the four prom surveys, however nearly twice the number of items (707) were recorded from the same stretches along the waterline (as viewed from the prom). 

Cigarettes were the number one item on the prom, but at the waterline, ready to float plastic bottles took the top spot. Food-on-the-go packaging again dominated the litter surveyed. It is alarming to wonder how much of the litter on the waterline will have already reached the sea as the tide ebbed and flowed this week.

The top three waterline items were plastic bottles, paper food containers and drinks cans. Along the prom, the top three items found were cigarettes, wooden forks and lolly sticks and plastic cutlery.

Heather McLaughlin, our Campaigns Coordinator, said: "As we demonstrated in our recently published Upstream Battle® Citizen Science Report, gathering evidence is vital to be able to identify the issues in an area.

"It can also provide baseline data ahead of the implementation of any interventions to raise awareness and inspire action to reduce the amount of litter reaching our rivers and waterways.

"We're committed to tackling riverine litter and working with communities to ensure we address local issues and challenges."

Visit Upstream Battle® if you would like to start collecting data for your own local area and keep an eye out for our upcoming Upstream in a Box toolkit to help implement Upstream Battle® on your waterway.

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20 June 2024

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