What is plastic pollution doing to rivers and wildlife?

Think of plastic pollution and what springs to mind? For most people it will be bottles strewn on beaches, wildlife entangled in carrier bags or those vast garbage patches in the Pacific Ocean. But UK rivers are now teeming with plastic – some clearly visible yet most is impossible to see. “Rivers harbour some of the highest levels of microplastic contamination and supply most of the microplastics found in the oceans,” noted experts from the University of Manchester in a paper for Nature Sustainability last year.

by David Burrows
Plastic rubbish in a river
Rivers have seen better days. Photograph: Robert Brook/Getty Images

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