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River Thames clean-up reveals rubbish which ends up on the riverbank

  • River Thames clean-up reveals rubbish which ends up on the riverbank

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Thames Water
Every day, we serve 15 million customers across London and the Thames Valley.

Oars, number plates and tyres were just some of the items found by Thames Water staff on a riverbank clean-up in Battersea.

The team of 12 joined with campaign group Thames 21 for the day and it was not long before they found plenty of odds and ends littering the foreshore.

As well as the eclectic array of items, the team also found half-a-tonne of wet wipes, sanitary products and other unflushable items which had been put down the toilet.

During periods of heavy rain, the city’s sewers can flood into the river and the amount of products found demonstrate a lack of awareness over what should and should not be flushed.

Thames Water’s Henry Badman: “The number of items we found in just a few hours was a real eye-opener. As well as the larger items which had clearly just been thrown in the river, there were so many unflushables lining the banks.

“It might seem convenient to flush wet wipes, sanitary products and condoms down the toilet but as we saw, this can have a real impact on the environment.”

Thames 21, a charity which highlights the importance of clean rivers to everyday life, is one of a number of organisations to benefit as part of Thames Water’s £5m community investment programme.

Chief executive Debbie Leach said: “The amount of rubbish and wet wipes we found shows the scale of the problem and just how wet wipes are changing the shape of the foreshore in London.

“We thoroughly support Thames Water’s efforts to tackle the issue, especially through its campaign to improve labelling on packaging.”

The products themselves may not even make it out of the sewer as many combine with fats and oils to form fatbergs which can lead to flooding that is both expensive to clear and can have a devastating impact on the environment.

A new ‘Fine to Flush’ logo has recently been developed to show which wet wipes have been designed to break-up in the sewers so they do not create blockages. Thames Water’s advice is that if this logo is not on the packaging then on only the three Ps – poo, pee and paper – should be flushed down the toilet.

Within its £11.7 billion business plan for 2020-25, Thames Water has committed to reducing the number of blockages every year to 65,000, down from 75,000 across its region, and is working with customers to help drive awareness about the causes.

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