Bicycles, traffic cones, fridge components, underpants and safes

ONE of the country’s biggest canal clean-ups removed 1.8 tonnes of rubbish, comprising 809 Kgs of plastic (almost 50% of rubbish) from a 10-mile stretch of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in one of the country’s biggest canal clean-ups.

Almost 300 colleagues from Asda House took time out to make a difference and help tackle the plastic pollution crisis, supported by Canal & River Trust, the charity that looks after the historic waterway.

Bicycles, traffic cones, spare tyres, safes, men’s underpants, shoes and even the inside of a fridge, were among the hundreds of items removed by volunteers, with many taking the opportunity to get afloat on the water by canoe and boat.

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Rubbish and plastic waste collected over five days (2-6 September) by Asda and Canal & River Trust was taken to a nearby responsible waste disposal company in Leeds. Maltings Organic Treatment Ltd weighed the rubbish daily and the company will also be recycling the plastic items collected from the canal into a bench. Colleagues originally predicted that the amount of plastic collected throughout the week would be enough to make one bench, however the 809 Kgs found on the litter pick actually equates to nine whole benches.

The recycled plastic bench will be installed in the next couple of months next to Leeds & Liverpool Canal, as a lasting legacy of the work carried out by colleagues from Asda and Canal & River Trust.

Chris Brown, Asda’s Senior Director for Sustainable Business said:
“I’d like to thank all my colleagues from Asda and the team from Canal & River Trust for working really hard throughout the week – which I know will make a difference to the local community who can enjoy our waterways in the city, litter-free.

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“At Asda we are dedicated to tackling plastic waste across our own business but we also hold litter-picks in communities across the UK to remove plastic and other litter from our local environments because we know it’s important to our customers and colleagues.”

Sean McGinley, Yorkshire & NE director at Canal & River Trust added:
“It’s amazing to see what lurks beneath our waterways and I wonder how some of these items have ended up in our waterways. Our charity spends around £1million a year dealing with litter and fly-tipping, money that could be better spent elsewhere.  We’re delighted to see the difference Asda volunteers have made and hope the experience has helped people to get to know their local canal and how we look after it.”

“Sadly, 14 million items of plastic end up in our canals and rivers each year and these flow into our oceans around the world. Small actions make a big difference.  If everyone who visited one of our waterways picked up just one piece of plastic, they would be plastic-free within a year.  Visit our website to find out more about #PlasticsChallenge and how you can help.”

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Volunteers taking part in the 10-mile clean-up operation received frequent praise from runners, cyclists and families who stopped to thank them for their efforts, with some regular waterway users commenting on how clean the canal appeared after just a few days of the activity.

Fiona Dobson, an Asda colleague who took part in the canal clean-up said;

“I was running along the canal throughout the week’s clean-up between Asda House and out past Kirkstall and the difference that the litter-picking has made to the appearance of the canal is absolutely amazing. The lack of rubbish is so noticeable!

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I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to get out on the water in canoes, it gave us all the chance to work as a team to clean-up our local waterways whilst having fun at the same time”.

The big litter pick is part of Asda’s commitment to tackle unnecessary plastic and the retailer has already removed 6,500 tonnes of own brand plastic from across the business over the past 18 months.

Canal & River Trust are the waterway and wellbeing charity that look after 316 miles of waterways across Yorkshire and North East England and 2,000 miles in England and Wales.  Earlier this year the Trust released its report on plastic pollution and launched its Plastics Challenge campaign.

To find out about the Canal & River Trust’s Plastics Challenge and to read the research report, visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/get-involved or follow on social media @CanalRiverTrust  #PlasticsChallenge

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