The charity making life better by water

Creating cleaner canals

Our Plastics Challenge is asking everyone who visits one of our waterways to pick up just one piece of plastic or litter and help clear them in a year. And while you're busy binning what you find above the water, we've still got a job to do underneath.

Plastic and litter free canals are beautiful inspiring places to use every day or to visit, with more people than ever enjoying the benefits of spending time alongside our waterways.

As the charity that protects and cares for our waterways, we've been working hard to tackle the problem.

What we can do

We're taking action to:

  • Use new technology to collect floating plastic and prevent it floating down stream to sea
  • Increase the number of ‘offside' litter collections – removing items from canal banks on the opposite side of the towpath
  • Work with partners to create ‘plastic free zones' in target problem areas
  • Improve recycling levels by adding recycling bins and separating recyclable items from all our litter collections
  • Make sure our cafes and shops don't add to the plastic problem through the items we sell or the straws, cups and packaging we use

What you can do

With 2,000 miles of canals, rivers, reservoirs and docks to care for we're going to need who lives or works alongside these waterways, who visits or uses them, walks to work, runs or cycles along them, to play their part:

  • Volunteer with us – we've hundreds of Towpath Taskforce litter-pick
    events, on and off the water, taking place around the country
  • Swap from single-use items to reusable – cups, bags, cutlery
  • Don't drop it – take it home and recycle it

What we can do together

Public attitudes are clear – everyone is fed up of plastics and litter. We're sick of the impact it has on where we all live and we're all concerned about oceans being put at risk. By working together we can make a
difference. Together we can make life better by water.


Take our Plastics Challenge

Discover what you can do on your doorstep to tackle the global plastics crisis

Cleaning the canals

Or more specifically, the canal and river beds. We've heard of people trying to remove rubbish from the water themselves using magnets, but this can pose a danger and we don't recommend you do this. If you see anything dangerous or hazardous, please don't pick it up - report it on 0303 040 4040 or email us telling us what it is and where it is so we can safely remove it as soon as possible.

Last Edited: 03 July 2020

photo of a location on the canals
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