Globally, about 80% of plastic pollution comes from terrestrial sources and approximately four million tonnes of plastic waste enter the sea via rivers every year, yet little is known about the extent of this pollution and the understanding of its origin.

Working in partnership with 17 other organisations from across France and England, Westcountry Rivers Trust is proud to be a part of the Preventing Plastic Pollution (PPP) project.

This seeks to understand and reduce the impacts of plastic pollution in the marine environment.

By looking at catchments from source to sea, the project will identify and target hotspots for plastic, embed behaviour change in local communities and businesses, and implement effective solutions and alternatives.  

The €14m PPP project is funded through the European Regional Development Fund via the Interreg France Channel England Programme. It will work across seven pilot sites: Brest Harbour, Bay of Douarnenez, Bay of Veys, Poole Harbour, and the Medway, Tamar, and Great Ouse estuaries.  

The information gathered from research in these areas will allow the cross-Channel partnerships to tackle plastic waste that enters the sea via rivers every year.

Help our work by sharing your perception of plastic pollution in our quick and easy survey:

As part of our project work, we will be building on our excellent Citizen Science Investigations (CSI) community who already help monitor water quality issues in our region’s river catchments, including recording plastic inputs.

Through PPP, we will be increasing the recording of plastic contamination within our CSI analysis to gather data on
the origins and accumulation of plastic in the Tamar catchment, which will inform where we need to carry out
local interventions – take part in our Tamar Plastic Hotspot Survey too.

This could lead us to work with farmers and businesses upstream to stop plastics getting into the rivers in the first place. It will also include river clean-up opportunities for people and local groups who love their rivers and streams and want to get involved.

Email [email protected] to find out more, or contact our project manager Andy Rogers at [email protected] or call 01579 372140.

Project objectives:

PPP will improve the quality of Transitional Waters across the France (Channel) England area (SO 3.2) by;

  • Developing a scalable and transferable mapping tool to provide quantifiable evidence of sources and quantities of plastic pollution in catchments.
  • Developing an effective portfolio of innovative interventions to reduce plastic waste in or entering catchments.
  • Transforming the behaviour of target groups and demonstrating best practice.

Expected project results:

PPP will improve water quality with:

  • a) A 10 % improvement in good ecological status (WFD Descriptor 10) in transitional waters.
  • b) A reduction in the harm caused by plastic pollution in rivers and the sea equivalent to €38.8M-€126M (150 km river/coast cleared, 200 t plastic removed).
  • c) A plastic-free charter implemented by 650 businesses & 50 supply chains modified.
  • d) Projected uptake to include+10 more catchments 2 yrs post project, and 100 catchments after 5 years.

Partners involved are: 

  • Queen Mary University of London
  • LABOCEA Conseil, Expertise et Analyses
  • Syndicat mixte établissement public de gestion et d’aménagement de la baie de Douarnenez
  • Office Français De La Biodiversité, Parc naturel marin d’Iroise
  • Brest Métropole
  • Centre national de la recherche scientifique
  • Counseil départemental de la Manche
  • Institut français de recherche pour l’exploitation de la mer
  • Environment Agency
  • The Rivers Trust
  • Syndicat de bassin de l’Elorn
  • Brest’aim
  • Westcountry Rivers Trust
  • South East Rivers Trust
  • Plymouth City Council
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • University of Plymouth