Litter of Thames Forum
7th October, PLA London Office, 150 Minories, EC3N 1LS
Tanya Ferry
Fatemah Abidi
Joe Churchman
Dave Morritt
Debbie Leach
Sue Kinsey
Gerard Morgan
Paul Clark
Brian Clark
Amy Pryor
Rob Francis
Thomas Meyas
Port of London Authority (PLA)
Global Ocean
Royal Holloway University London (RHUL)
Marine Conservation Society (MCS)
London River Services
Natural History Museum (NHM)
British Marine Federation (BMF)
Thames Estuary Partnership (TEP)
Kings College
Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Green Blue Project
Plastic Europe
GLA Environment Team
Deptford Creek Education Centre
1. Introductions to individuals, and organisations
The group went round the table, introduced themselves and the litter related work they were doing.
Fatemah Abidi, Operations Manager at Global Ocean.
Global Oceans started in 2006 and the main focus of work is on plastic pollution and education.
They work with MCS and Thames21 training volunteers. It is a challenge finding out what is there.
This precipitated a discussion around the challenges of discovering what plastic pollution resides in
the riverbed and in the water column.
Action: TF will ask at the PLA whether grab samples taken for monitoring dredging could check the
sediment for small plastic pieces.
Joe Churchman, Founder and Creative Director, Ecotales.
EcoTales is a not-for-profit environmental production company. Their first film Gloop, a twisted fairytale narrated by a child about the meteoric rise of plastic from its conception to its present day widespread use, and carries the message plastic NEVER goes away. The film won awards at numerous
festivals around the world. Other projects include Stanleytross, an albatross made by children out of
plastic which toured the country and spent time outside the House of Commons, Westminster. The
children who helped make it explained why to David Cameron. Initiative launching next year – No
Plastics Day 24th June 2015 – has a lot of support and they want help in spreading the word and
gaining more. It has its own website and branding giving any organisation taking part ownership of
Dr David Morritt, Senior Lecturer, Biological Sciences, RHUL.
His work examines how invertebrate groups are adapted to stressful habitats and how they respond
to environmental stresses, both natural e.g., salinity, temperature and xenobiotic e.g., pesticides,
heavy metal pollutants and plastic pollution. Surveys on mitten crabs have discovered plastic in gut
Debbie Leach, Executive Director, Thames21.
Thames21 were created to tackle issues of litter on the Thames. They are supported by Keep Britain
Tidy and the PLA. They engage communities and train volunteers through foreshore clean ups and
surveys and look at sources of litter. Host numerous Catchment Partnerships on the tributaries and
co-host tidal Thames Catchment Partnership.
Dr Sue Kinsey, Senior Pollution Policy Officer, MCS
Her work focusses on litter and sewage pollution and awareness around rivers being a source of
pollution of the sea. She works with the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the Marine Litter
Action Network (MLAN).
Gerard Morgan, Operations Support Manager, London River Services.
Responsible for operation services across eight piers on the Thames and the Woolwich ferry. There
are nine million passenger journeys a year. Waste management is conducted by boat and licences
stipulate behaviour. They want to reduce the amount of waste generated by the passengers services
on the river.
Dr Paul Clark, Crustacea Research Group, NHM
Working on invasive species including mitten crabs and supervises students conducting research and
Brian Clark, Head of External Relations, BMF
Trade of leisure and marine industry with membership of 1500-1600. Sunseeker - canal boat, and
supply chain. Passenger boats association. Nine years working RYA Green blue best practice.
Amy Pryor, Projects Manager, TEP
Standing in for Director Pat Fitzsimons. TEP are a neutral forum facilitating multi sectoral meetings
on Thames issues e.g. commercial fishing, dredging; managing environmentally driven small to
landscape scale projects as well as heritage and education driven projects. Hosted by UCL so strong
academic links for research. Co hosts of tidal Thames Catchment Partnership. One initiative we have
been invited to take part in which may benefit the litter forum is the Gulbenkian Ocean Initiative.
Due to start in January 2015, the initiative is looking at ways for the environmental NGO sector to
build capacity in communicating the benefits of marine ecosystem services.
Additional people to invite:
 Thames Water
 British Plastics Association
 Tower Palace sponsor
 London aquarium
 Thames operators – TF going to meet with operators to try to understand why they haven’t
engaged on environmental projects to date.
Action: TF to invite
2. Situation of the Thames
Thames21 has cleared most of the historic large scale litter over the last ten years. These include
things like tyres, trolleys etc. They conduct a rapid assessment every year via boat which takes a
snapshot of litter on the foreshore and use this to help them target areas for community clean-ups.
A report is published every year detailing the type and number of litter collected throughout the
year. Specific breakdown of litter is very difficult and often it isn’t clear as to whether it is
windswept, from river use or sewage related.
Debris collected by the PLA, often includes plastic and goes straight to landfill due to the health risk
to PLA staff. Passive and driftwood collectors are emptied as required. Litter on the Thames is
political as we can’t have litter floating up through the city. Only surface litter and stranded litter can
be seen so projects researching subtidal litter would be interesting.
3. Terms of Reference and objectives
ToR gives an idea of what we can achieve and was accepted by the forum with the understanding
that it can be changed as we go along. The group discussed what the forum’s objective should be
and agreed that together we can maximise the work already being done by individual organisations
and other networks. Specifically we can focus on flora and fauna; Thames specific litter network; an
evidence group facilitating foreshore and water column research.
4. Policy, plans & consultation
Current EU legislation is all about harm. Germany and Europe in general is way ahead of the UK on
combatting litter and pollution.
Westminster Consultation: PLA responded to a recent consultation in Westminster regarding waste
and litter. The current Strategic Framework does not include all small to medium enterprises (SMEs).
The response highlighted how the PLA want to deal with the sources of litter not just collect it. The
GLA want specific evidence so they can fine newsagents or introduce a plastic bag levy. Monitoring
change and seeing benefits will be integral to showing the reasons for legislation, fines or funding for
new projects.
PLA Byelaws have been revised and will take effect January 2015. They include new restrictions on
vessels banning pumping out of sewage into the river by houseboats and freight vessels. Class 5
heritage boats will struggle with the new byelaws. There is a surprising amount of pump out
currently on the river. Anything licensed by the MCA hasn’t had to have these facilities on board.
Current Projects
Networks and events:
 Marine Litter Action Network (MLAN) is UK wide aiming to bridge the gaps between NGOs,
retailers and business. MLAN has agreed 10 initial actions which are currently being worked
on. A briefing paper and action list will be disseminated in due course. Part of the work will
look at existing evidence and any gaps with links to academia. MCS is the secretariat and will
ensure close ties between MLAN and the Thames Litter Forum.
o MLAN – Thames21 and MCS to liaise between the network and this forum.
Your Tidal Thames Catchment Plan incorporates action on Thames litter via Thames21
Ecotales No Plastic Day 19th June 2015.
NHM - Waste weekend 3-4th January 2015 includes presentations, Nature Live events and a
giant mural for children to fill in. All invited to join in and bring displays.
o Thames21 have a stand booked already.
o Ecotails - walking sculpture
o MCS - full size turtle & dolphins.
o PLA – River Strategy Van
 MSFD consultation starts in January – if respond please include litter projects in mitigation
 River Basin Management Plan consultation runs October 2014 – April 2015.
 Environment Agency flounder surveys conducted annually checks for gut contents and could
advise as to whether plastics are sampled for.
 Cefas to gut content analysis as part of North Sea fish surveys
 A water fountain with a reusable bottle for a minimum charge of 50p is being trialled at
Embankment from October.
 Thames21 have applied for a research grant to look at litter sources.
 NHM have applied for a NERC grant for between £5-10 million and will have the outcome in
 Leverhulme grants are available all year round and we could approach them for a Thames
 A water fountain with a reusable bottle for a minimum charge of 50p is being trialled at
Embankment from October.
 Heriott-Watt University trialled reverse vending machines.
 Philip law, CEO
New or proposed ideas
 PLA dredging sample analysis for plastics.
 Hot Spots - driftwood.
 PLA will conduct a review of how litter impacts navigation once they have a work experience
resource in office.
 Pier Masters and Watermen doing water quality testing at their piers – trends on their
doorstep to include a litter snapshot.
Corporate responsibility:
 Thames Clippers – could talk about litter and individual responsibility as part of their safety
Transport For London (TFL) - Thames Watch getting anyone who works or commutes on the
river to report on litter.
Corporate responsibility on all major coffee chains to raise awareness or offer incentives for
commuters and tourist using the river. Small business will find it more challenging.
o Cost Co. is a big company we could approach Action: TF to engage
o PLA Operators Forum - PLA Corporate Affairs Team will chat to the Thames
operators about the coffee cups used on their vessels. Passenger boats recently
joined this forum Action: TF to liaise
MCA engagement
Art and engagement:
 Animated video showing what it would look like if the litter had never been cleaned up and
what it would look like if the sewer had never been built after the Great Stink.
 Information boards at piers – the Tower currently has banners on chewing gum so can we
get similar about litter? Boards at all major tourist attractions by the piers to reach those
nine million passengers a year on the river.
 Clean ups targeted on the Outer Estuary.
 Old Father Thames cartoon strip in Tidal Thames magazine
 Projection on the side of a building to show how much litter has been cleaned up using
Thames21 10 years of data
 Awareness campaign using graphic design maybe a pro bono project by an advertising
o Location specific and targeted e.g. Richmond Deer Park covered in litter with a deer
poking it’s head out of a pile of rubbish and a coffee cup on it’s antler
o Hyde Park (any local park) – children playing in piles of rubbish
o Trafalgar Square – people feeding pigeons pieces of plastic
 Link with European City Councils to share knowledge
 Mobile pump out service once new PLA Byelaws are implemented.
7. Future meetings and actions
The forum agreed to quarterly meetings with email contact in between. Next meeting agreed 10am
16th December, 2014. Action: TF to book a room at PLA London office.
Lend round link to Global Ocean information
Circulate information on riverine litter from
Invite additional suggested organisations to the
Engage Cost Co
PLA Corporate Affairs Team to speak with
Operators via the Operators Forum
Room booked for next meeting
Fatimah Abidi
Sue Kinsey
Tanya Ferry
Tanya Ferry
Tanya Ferry
Tanya Ferry

Thames Litter Forum October 2014 minutes