THE Canal & River Trust has urged people not to drop plastic waste and to take it home with them.

The charity is urging communities across Wiltshire to take action on their doorstep to make their local neighbourhood beautiful.

As part of its campaign to help tackle the global plastics crisis it is telling visitors – don’t drop it, pick it up and recycle it to help make the nation’s canals and rivers plastics free.

The Trust cares for 2,000 miles of canals and river navigations in England and Wales, including the Kennet & Avon Canal through Wiltshire.

Working with Coventry University, the charity has published a detailed analysis of the plastics and other litter found in its waterways, including those in Wiltshire.

The research, which reviewed data from 25 locations, found that plastics now account for 59 per cent of waste found along its canals.

It estimates that 570,000 items of plastic reach the world’s oceans each year via its waterways. With the help of local communities this figure could be drastically cut.

Peter Birch, the CRT's national environmental policy advisor, says: “By taking a little care of Wiltshire’s waterways, everyone can have beauty on their doorstep.

"The Canal & River Trust is on a mission to eradicate plastics from our vast network of canals and rivers – helping us all to live in better, more beautiful neighbourhoods, whilst tackling a global issue, and making life better by water.

“Devastatingly, despite being vital green corridors in towns and cities, our canals and rivers can inadvertently act as ‘plastics highways’, transporting rubbish from where we live out to sea.

"Not only is this a huge problem for wildlife, which can be harmed, it also detracts from these special and important wellbeing places in our towns and cities.

"We believe everyone deserves – and can help create - beauty on their doorstep, and by taking action locally, they will also be helping tackle a global issue.”

As canals and rivers become more accessible – there were 32 million visits to the waterways in the wider Wales and South West region last year – and with almost one in five people admitting to dropping litter, a lot of this can unfortunately end up in our waterways.

The vast majority of the litter found along and in the canals each year is potentially recyclable or could be re-used in creative and innovative ways.

The Trust is calling on every visitor to its waterways in Wiltshire to make their own small contribution to help keep them clear of plastics by picking up and recycling a piece each time they visit, joining the Trust’s growing band of volunteers, or even adopting a short stretch of their local canal with friends, neighbours or colleagues.

It is supporting Defra’s Year of Green Action working with #iwill4nature encouraging youth environmental action and has also published a downloadable free family plastics and litter activity pack which highlights to children the importance of taking action.

Richard Parry, the CRT's chief executive, said: “We know that life is better by water and more people than ever appreciate the benefits of spending time alongside our waterways, right at the heart of thousands of communities across the country.

"Plastic and litter free canals are beautiful, inspiring places for people to enjoy, whether for everyday use or a one-off visit, whilst also being hugely important habitats for some of the nation’s much loved and endangered species. Help us tackle a global issue by taking action on your doorstep today.”

To find out how you can help support the Trust’s Plastics Challenge and to read the research report, visit or follow the charity on social media @CanalRiverTrust #PlasticsChallenge