We are calling for people who live, work or simply love the River Tamar to help prevent single-use plastic (SUP) entering the river this summer.

As part of our work in the €14m Preventing Plastic Pollution (PPP) project, involving key partners in England and France to avert plastic hotspots in the Channel, we want individuals and businesses to take part in our #WhatSUP98 campaign.

Project manager Andy Rogers said: “We’d love to see people join in and make a promise from World Environment Day on Saturday 5 June through to 4 September to stop using, or find an eco-friendlier alternative to, the SUP in their lives for at least 98 days – a day for each kilometre of the river.”

Ideas to support the campaign include safely picking up 98 pieces of SUP litter and disposing of it correctly; joining one of WRT’s PPP river/beach cleans and removing 98 nurdles; and using SUP alternatives for 98 days such as shampoo bars rather than bottles. But whatever you can do to minimise SUP will be appreciated.

In 2020, our PPP team collected more than 1,200 food-related SUP items in just seven local litter picks, while in 2021 in just one day at four highway locations they cleared 26 kg of SUP, all of which could have ended up in the River Tamar and then out to sea.

Globally, about 80% of plastic pollution comes from land sources and approximately four million tonnes of plastic waste enter the sea via rivers every year.

Andy added: “Little is known about the extent of this pollution and the understanding of its origin but by taking part in our #WhatSUP98 campaign, people can provide valuable insight for our PPP research.

“We hope they will also learn more about the impact SUP has on the River Tamar and the habitats and wildlife it supports and participation will bolster or inspire a long-term desire to lessen personal single-use plastic use.”

In the Tamar catchment, we are working alongside Plymouth City Council, University of Plymouth and the Environment Agency to deliver the PPP project with the participation of individuals, communities and businesses to reduce or stop plastics entering the Tamar from source to sea.

Small and medium-sized businesses may be able to access a free waste audit (valued at £500) via the PPP project.

To find out more about #WhatSUP98 and/or to make a promise, visit https://wrt.org.uk/project/preventing-plastic-pollution-whatsup98/ or email [email protected] to find out about the free waste audit opportunity.