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Over 100 abandoned shopping trolleys found during Chelmsford river clean-up

Over the past couple of weeks, teams from Chelmsford City Council have worked hard cleaning up litter from the waterways in the city centre.

The first week of the river clean-up saw the team use a working boat to remove surface debris, obvious litter and other objects that shouldn’t be in the river. The second week involved slightly lowering the water levels of the river which allowed objects from further down on the river bed to be retrieved. The team hauled from the river shocking amounts of litter, including more than 100 shopping trolleys.

Huge amounts of litter removed from river

As well as the 104 abandoned shopping trolleys, the council team also removed:

  • 8 shopping baskets
  • 21 bicycles
  • 2 Christmas trees
  • 3 pushchairs/prams
  • 17 traffic cones
  • 1 Spin scooter
  • 4 tents
  • 1 wheelie bin
  • Various sleeping bags/blankets
  • Over 100 bags of general rubbish (including plastic, glass, tins etc.)
  • 1 large Christmas decoration
  • 26 life belts (aiming to re-use)

Councillor Rose Moore, Cabinet Member for Greener and Safer Chelmsford, was horrified by the volume of rubbish:

“The huge haul that we’ve recently seen come out of our river channels in the city centre is both horrifying and a wonderful thing; to know all that grime and pollution – tangled bits of metal, shopping trolleys and over a hundred of bags of rubbish – is all out now. It’s always shocking to see the accumulated gubbins that comes out of our rivers and our waterways. It’s heartbreaking to know that people really are so mindless that they will just cast large items aside.”

Councillor Rose Moore, Cabinet Member for Greener and Safer Chelmsford

Councillor Moore also asks everyone to think about their actions so that they don’t become part of the wider problem:

“It’s also the ‘everyday’ accumulation of litter. If you buy something and it leaves your hand and doesn’t go into a bin then you are part of the problem. So, if you can’t find a bin, do the right thing and take your litter home with you.”

Councillor Rose Moore, Cabinet Member for Greener and Safer Chelmsford

Looking after the waterways

The waterways are an amazing part of the city. The council urges residents and visitors to the city to do their bit to look after the rivers, and the ecosystems they support, by making sure litter is binned safely and well away from the rivers. Even better, if you can’t use the ‘recycle-on-the-go’ bins in town please take single-use plastic home with you and put it in your recycling sack for collection instead.

Ways to help

This latest river clean-up activity was undertaken by the City Council but there are also ways the public can get involved and lend a helping hand.

The council’s Love Your Chelmsford team runs a litter picking volunteer programme for residents, schools, businesses, and community groups. They also occasionally hold community volunteering days where anyone is welcome to attend. They hope to run a river clean-up in the spring. Follow Love Your Chelmsford on Facebook to find out their upcoming events.

They also loan out complete kits of litter picking equipment for free for a maximum of 14 days at a time. These kits include an adult or child size litter picker, gloves, hi-vis waistcoat, and branded heavy-duty bin bags. Equipment is available to collect from Freighter House, Drovers Way, Springfield.

The SUPsect Water Wombles are a waterways focused litter-pick group that clean up the Essex waterways by both paddleboard and on foot. Follow their Facebook group to find out how to get involved.

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Charlotte Maltby
Charlotte Maltby

Charlotte writes about the environment, parks, recycling, business, planning, public realm and democratic services.