For the last two years we’ve organised beach cleans as part of the Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean, the biggest beach clean and survey in the UK.
While we’ve only taken art for the last two years, the GBBC and Beachwatch programmes has been running for over 25 years. In this time volunteers have collected information which has helped make some of the most significant impacts on beach litter ever – the plastic bag charge, microplastics banned in personal care products, better wet wipe labelling, and massive support for a tax on ‘on the go’ plastic single use items.
The GBBC 2018 Report, shows that across the UK on average, a staggering 600 items of litter on every 100 metres of beach that were cleaned and surveyed. While that’s still a huge amount it’s actually 16% down on last year.
On a chilly and wet September day we did our Great British Beach Clean at North Shore in Whitehaven and found 269 pieces of litter in our 100 metre survey area. Most of the litter we found was plastic (over 47%), and 64% of the litter we found came from the public – things like bottles, fast food wrappers and cigarette butts. This is much more than the national figure of 28%.
So, what can you do to help us keep beaches clean? You can join us on Wednesday 12th December when we’ll be back beach cleaning at North Shore (we bring everything you need, just come along and join in). We’ve also written an article with a few ideas before to get you started reducing how much plastic you use. A Deposit Return System (DRS) is under development in Scotland and has been promised for England. The MCS says the Government now has a golden opportunity to bring in the best system possible – one that will include all bottles and cans and all sizes. A consultation on a DRS in England is expected to be launched any day now. Keep your eye on the MCS website and social media feeds to see how you comment on the proposals.