Organisations across the South West are coming together as part of an international project to remove and prevent plastic pollution in the English Channel.
The £11m project was approved by the Interreg France England Programme, who have committed the funding thanks to the European Regional Development Fund.
The project involves 18 partners across England and France who will work together to gain a greater understanding of the origins of plastic pollution in order to effectively target its sources.
Preventing Plastic Pollution (PPP), led by Queen Mary Univerity London, will develop a model to gather data on the amount and the likely sources of the plastic pollution at seven sites, including the River Tamar catchment in Plymouth.
Researchers from Plymouth University will carry out an assessment of the plastic that is entering the River Tamar, this plastic will then be quantified using a standardised approach.
The PPP partners will also work to engage communities, agriculture, fishing and maritime industries to help reduce their plastic impact and encourage them to adopt more sustainable behaviours.
Professor Richard Thompson, head of international marine litter at the University of Plymouth, said: ‘There are many sources of plastic pollution to the marine environment and the world’s freshwater systems would feature high on that list.
‘Appreciating the relative importance of these sources is key if we are to fully address this issue and this is an exciting project when it comes to developing a greater understanding of that.
‘The challenge of plastic pollution is one we can solve but only by working together, and I believe the research and collaborative opportunities offered by this project can help reduce plastic pollution.’
Emma Howard-Boyd, chair of the environment agency added: ‘Plastic pollution is a growing threat to our natural environment.
‘Reducing the amount entering the river network will help protect wildlife for future generations.
‘Our teams will work across the south coast, with the project partners, to increase understanding of plastics in the environment and test innovative approaches to help businesses, communities and young people reduce their use of avoidable plastics.’
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