The number of plastic bags discarded on UK beaches to endanger wildlife dropped by almost 40% between 2015 and 2016, presumably thanks to the 5p charge now levied by supermarkets on single-use carriers.
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has welcomed the fall, describing it as “fantastic news for marine wildlife”.
According to the MCS Great British Beach Clean 2016 report, based on surveys carried out last September, in 2015 there were, on average, 11 plastic bags per 100m of coastline cleaned by MCS volunteers, but in 2016 that figure had reduced to just under 7- the lowest in 10 years.
The charity began calling for action on carrier-bags in 2008, and says it was instrumental in getting levies introduced in Wales in 2011, Northern Ireland in 2013, Scotland in 2014 and England in October 2015.
The MCS also reported a drop of almost 4% in the number of litter items found on UK beaches between 2015 and 2016 – although that still left 268,384 individual items collected at 364 events by just under 6000 volunteers.
There was also a 4%-plus rise in the number of drinks containers found, including plastic bottles, plus “an astonishing rise” of 53.5% in the amount of balloon-related litter. Turtles and other sea creatures mistake plastic bags but also balloons for jellyfish, and eating either can cause a fatal blockage in their digestive systems.
The Great British Beach Clean 2017 takes place on 15-18 September.
Also in the MCS calendar is a fund-raising sea-kayak challenge. Following two annual events around the Isles of Scilly, the next five-day expedition led by adventurer Nick Arding OBE will be in Cornwall, where the challenge began in 2014.
The kayakers set out on Saturday 6 May from Port Mylor near Falmouth, heading towards Lizard Point and taking in a beach clean on the way. Accommodation is in tents, and no previous kayaking experience is necessary.
Participants can either pay a deposit of £95 and raise a further £600 for the MCS or pay £695 up front. Places are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis, and with only 18 available anyone interested is encouraged to apply as soon as possible here
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