Supermarket chain Waitrose is donating £500,000 from carrier-bag sales to the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), which will use the funds to create a new series of around 1000 beach- and river-cleaning events over the next 12 months.
And, for the first time, many of the plastics collected by volunteers are set to be sorted and recycled.
“Beach litter has steadily risen over the two decades that MCS volunteers have been recording it on UK beaches,” said MCS Beachwatch Manager Lauren Eyles at the launch of the partnership at a beach-clean at West Bay, Dorset on 18 July.
“Last year, on average in the UK, 694 items of litter were collected for every 100m cleaned.
“Plastic bottles and carrier-bags, nappies, balloons and tiny plastic pieces can be found on almost every beach in the UK – either washed up, blown there or dropped. But we can all do something positive to help – find your nearest event and get stuck in!”
The MCS, which is hoping that the events will attract more than 10,000 volunteers, had previously worked with Waitrose on its sustainable seafood programme.
The supermarket, which is aiming to make all its own-label packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025, describes the beach-cleans as “our first step in donating £1 million to projects to tackle plastic pollution”.
The Waitrose Beach & River Clean-up series will kick off during MCS’s Great British Beach Clean event from 15-18 September. You can register as an organiser or volunteer here.
Meanwhile the MCS has welcomed news that North Sea cod stocks have been certified as reaching a level at which they can once again be described as sustainable.
“MCS is delighted to see North Sea cod continue to increase in abundance – now above its upper biomass reference point,“ said the organisation’s Head of Fisheries & Aquaculture Samuel Stone.
“The recovery of the fishery represents years of hard work and sacrifices made by the industry.”
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