With the onset of lockdown just over a year ago along with restrictions on how our field teams could work, we had to let APEM’s Cash for Trash work go on hiatus.

But now as restrictions let up across the UK and summer approaches, we’re back in action with exciting new plans for the litter clearance and recycling project. Whether on rivers and streams, canals, reservoirs and lakes or estuaries and beaches, the APEM team will collect litter and recycle any material possible, reducing microplastics and ocean litter loads.

The Cash for Trash project

Pete sitting by river with collected litter

Established by Director of Field Operations, Peter Dennis, the Cash for Trash scheme involves APEM field scientists collecting litter whilst out surveying the length and breadth of Britain.

Plastic in our waterways can get carried away to the sea where they can cause severe impacts on marine ecosystems, for example becoming ingested by wildlife or creating toxins in the ocean. Alternatively, the waste stays in our rivers, polluting our inland waterways causing harm to resident wildlife and creating blockages in our water supply network.

As well as clearing litter, APEM and our clients supporting the project donate to charity for each bag of litter collected. In 2019 over 150 bags of litter were collected from 70 sites all over the UK, from Lochaber in the Scottish Highlands to the Isle of White.

We raised nearly £400 for charity Afonydd Cymru in partnership with Dwr Cymru Welsh Water. APEM also began working in partnership with the Big Blue Ocean Clean Up organisation who provided us with a clean-up kit.

Our field team also like to get resourceful with the litter they find! Last year, they made fish measuring boards from plastic sheets they had discovered in the River Mersey.

field scientist picking up plastic sheet

Alongside the Cash for Trash initiative, APEM undertakes sponsored litter clean-ups on the River Irwell using a purpose-built Litter Boat. APEM have been operating this vessel for 10 years with continued sponsorship from the Environment Agency, Rivers Trust and local businesses.

Irwell Pride litter boat

How you can help tackle litter pollution

It’s easy to make a difference in your local community by picking up litter near you. Consider picking up a few pieces of litter you spot every time you go for a walk. Maybe even invest in a litter picker! Keep Britain Tidy has a guide to help you get started.

You can also sign up for their week-long Great British Spring Clean which begins on 28th May.

If you live near the sea, you can get involved in the Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean or Surfers Against Sewage’s Million Mile Clean.

If you are a client or a partner who would like to support APEM’s Cash for Trash charity initiative, get in touch.