40 tonnes of rubbish cleared from beaches as plastic bag use rises
More than 40 tonnes of rubbish were removed from beaches by Marine Conservation Society (MCS) volunteers and Marks and Spencer (M&S) staff and customers during the Big Beach Clean-up in May. This covered 145km of beach and 3km of waterways, the greatest total distance covered by the clean-up since it began in 2012.
The Big Beach Clean-up was organised as part of the Forever Fish partnership which has seen MCS join forces with high street retailer M&S and the Canal & River Trust to help reduce plastic bag use and increase people’s understanding of the need to eat sustainable fish.
MCS Beachwatch Officer, Charlotte Coombes, said the items most commonly found were pieces of plastic, which topped the list of ten most frequently found items: “Plastic pieces, crisp and sweet wrappers, glass pieces, plastic bottles, anglers fishing line, plastic bags, paper, metal, wood and polystyrene. If MCS and its volunteers didn’t clean and survey our beaches, we would not be able to continue to pressurize the authorities into keeping marine and beach litter on the agenda. Our surveys reveal where the rubbish on our beaches come from. If we can stop the litter at source we can make beaches in the UK cleaner and safer places for wildlife and people.”
New figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, show that the number of single-use plastic bags handed out by UK supermarkets has increased for the fifth year, rising to 8.5bn.From October large shops in England will have to charge for plastic bags. All retailers with 250 or more full-time equivalent employees will have to charge a minimum of 5p for the bags they provide for shopping in stores and for deliveries. A reduction in the number of plastic bags handed out by retailers was found in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where levies have been introduced.