UK beaches dirtier than ever

archive – Diving NewsUK beaches dirtier than ever

Announcing that UK beach-litter levels in 2017 were 10% higher than the previous year, with “on the go” food and drinks litter accounting for up to a fifth of the waste, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has demanded that the Government act now to place a levy on many free disposable items.

The Great British Beach Clean organised by the MCS is the UK’s biggest such event, and all items found are recorded according to an internationally agreed system.

The 2017 event from 15-18 September saw just under 7000 volunteer beach-cleaners collect record amounts of litter from 339 UK beaches, averaging 718 items from every 100m cleaned.

Litter categorised by the MCS as “on the go” includes drinks cups, plastic cutlery, foil wrappers, straws, sandwich-packets, lolly-sticks, plastic and glass bottles, drinks cans and plastic cups, lids and stirrers. It made up 63% of the rubbish left behind by the public

The MCS is calling for all single-use items given away free to be subject to a levy.

“The 5p single-use carrier-bag charge has made a massive difference to the number of plastic bags entering our seas,” said Lizzie Prior, MCS Beach & River Clean Project Officer.

“If a levy was placed on single-use plastic such as straws, stirrers, cutlery, cups and cup-lids, we're confident that we'd find fewer of these items on our beaches.”

The Great British Beach Clean also revealed a 94% rise in the number of wet-wipes found on UK beaches in a single year. As with all the litter items, there is concern not only about the look of the beach but consequent damaging pollution of the marine environment.

Northern Ireland revealed the highest litter density for the third year running, followed by England, which showed a 13% increase year on year, the worst offenders being in the South-east and South-west.

Find out more about the Stop the Plastic Tide campaign here.

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