Urban canals and rivers are an increasingly common end-point for consumer plastics, but can be kept clean through effective policy initiatives.
TARGET USERS: Individuals, Businesses, Industry, Government
COSTS: Project specific
KEY CONSIDERATIONS: Citizen awareness programs lead by cities have proven to reduce waste in urban waterways, leading to an overall reduction in ocean plastics.
MORE INFORMATION: www.amsterdamcleanwater.nl
CONTACT: See contact form at www.amsterdamcleanwater.nl
More than half a million plastic items reach the oceans every year from the waterway network. Abandoned plastics now account for 59% of the litter found in canals in England and Wales, while Amsterdam retrieves 60,000 kilograms of plastic from its 100-kilometre canal network yearly (sources: The Guardian and Silicon Canals).
City-lead clean waterway initiatives are effective mechanisms for raising consumer awareness and thereby reducing the amount of plastic that ends-up in urban waterway networks. Amsterdam Clean Water, for example, was founded in September 2016 by the City of Amsterdam, Waternet, Port of Amsterdam, Plastic Soup Foundation, PlasticsEurope Nederland, NRK and Berenschot, as part of a large central ‘clean city’ project from the City of Amsterdam. The 3-year program aimed to bring structural change in waste management concerning the waters of Amsterdam and reduce the amount of litter that ends up in canals and the IJ River each year.
Several activities and projects were organized each year by Amsterdam Clean Water, including providing dip nets and trash bags to the public along the quays during the Gay Pride Canal Parade in 2016 and 2017. Amsterdam Clean Water also encourages the use of reusable water bottles by highlighting the city's many drinkable water tap points.
Please visit www.amsterdamcleanwater.nl for more information.
Venice is an additional example of an urban waterway tourist destination, like Amsterdam, that suffers from plastic pollution in its canals. The non-profit organization, Plastic Free Venice, aims to stir consumer awareness in its efforts to reduce plastic in Venice's ancient waterways. For more information, please see: https://www.plasticfreevenice.org/
In the UK, the Canal & River Trust works with the Welsh Government, volunteers and communities across England and Wales to transform over 3,219 kilometres (2,000 miles) of canals and rivers into spaces where local people can "spend time and feel better." Their work includes not only waterway stewardship, but also the promotion of waterways to the eight million plus people who have them on their doorstep, "so that many more people benefit from their free, accessible and local source of wellbeing." For more information, please visit https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/.
Amsterdam Clean Water launched a short film about the importance of clean water in Amsterdam. The film follows a number of inhabitants who are actively and passionately involved in cleaning the canals. The purpose of the film is to make tourists, residents and shopkeepers aware of the large amount of litter that easily ends up in the water. See https://youtu.be/SBUyuLBPlZg
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