VOLUNTEERS collected more than 1,000 sackfuls of rubbish during a litter blitz on Ealing's canal towpaths.

The two-week initiative, to mark Keep Britain Tidy's Great British Spring Clean, was a joint operation by LAGER Can - the Litter Action Group for Ealing Residents - and the Canal & River Trust.

It took 13 sessions to cover all 11.5 miles of the Grand Union towpath within Ealing borough, stretching from the M4 bridge at Osterley to Bulls Bridge and back along the Paddington Arm to Park Royal.

Much of the litter mountain consisted of cans and bottles dumped by drinkers. 

LAGER Can's Cathy Swift says bringing in a national deposit return scheme would make a massive and immediate difference,

"I am convinced this kind of litter would disappear overnight if a DRS was introduced.  Even if the people who buy the products didn’t collect their deposits, someone else would."

Other finds included a set of weightlifting dumbbells and, sadly, a dead cat and two dead goats, plus a machete.

Cathy says the discovery of weapons is nothing new. "In the past four years we have found at least three guns  and many, many knives,” she said.

“I have personally found five or six large knives or machetes."

Along the towpath, the section between Northolt and Alperton was blighted by fly-tipping from boats and adjacent housing.  

Cathy says litter picking is made more challenging by a lack of bins along the canal in Ealing.  

"I don’t buy the argument that bins attract rubbish,” she said. “Bins, if installed, need to be emptied when they are full.

“If not, they look as if they are encouraging bad behaviour when, in fact, they are doing the opposite.

"It’s clear from the work we’ve done over the past four years that many people want to do the right thing.

“For example, a giant plant pot at Hayes Bridge is being used as a bin. I feel the absence of bins, and failure to clean up the rubbish, sends a message that the people in authority don’t care."

Canal & River Trust volunteer coordinator Gareth George said: "The team made a real difference, making life by the water better for everyone."

LAGER Can was founded in 2017 and won a Queen's Award for Voluntary Service in 2021.