Port of London – Expanding Passive Litter Collection on the Thames

The Port of London Authority (PLA) has been collecting drifting debris from the Thames that is a hazardous to shipping via its driftwood service. More recently, this service has expanded to remove waste left by human activity, such as plastic items, bottles and bags. There has been a network of passive collectors installed around the Thames within London, set outside the navigational channel at strategic points to maximise collection. As the use and disposal of plastic items has grown the litter has become and issue outside of London where these collectors are not as effective.

In 2014 the PLA formed the Thames Litter Forum to bring together different organisations interested or affected by Litter on the Thames, as well as those with some of the solutions to prevent it entering the river. The forum developed a Strategy for the Thames vision that focuses on four areas; 1 Baseline data, 2 Pathways 3 Removal, and 4 education.

In the ongoing commitment to remove as much as possible the PLA has partnered with London Gateway to develop a collector that can deal with the specific conditions and litter in the estuary. In 2019 the PLA deployed an existing design with timelapse cameras near to the Kent marine base, near by the staff foreshore clean up, to identify design changes that will be required in 2020.