M&S to help tackle beach litter

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has announced that it will partner up with the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and the Canal & River Trust to help tackle litter on UK beaches.

Thousands of volunteers, including M&S customers, employees and Marine Conservation Society volunteers, will help to clear litter from beaches and canals across the UK, including locations that were hit by recent storms.

The initiative is entitled 'M&S Big Beach Clean-up' and will take place between 24 and 30 April.

According to M&S, the target is to clear more than last year's massive haul of 30 tonnes of litter - the equivalent weight of two double decker buses.

Most of the litter collected will be common waste items such as fishing nets, ropes and bottles tops. However, last year M&S beach and canal cleaners found an array of unusual items including a bath, coffee maker, HM Prison Service toothbrush and a Freeview box.

Additionally, MCS will take the opportunity to assess the impact this year's storms have had on beach litter and debris. Locations such as Eastney (near Portsmouth), Exmouth (Devon), Chesil Cove (Dorset) and Hayle Towans (Cornwall), which were battered by recent storms, will be cleaned and surveyed by the volunteers.

Last year over 9,000 people (4,000 M&S employees and 5,000 M&S customers) volunteered and collected 4,000 bin bags full of litter after cleaning over 300km of beaches and canals.

M&S retail director Sacha Berendji said: "Our Big Beach Clean-up 2013 exceeded all expectations and made a significant impact on local communities. This year our beaches and canals, and in turn our marine life, need us and our army of volunteers more than ever before. It's a fun, outdoor activity and I'm confident we can go one step further and surpass last year's litter haul. And, as an incentive, there's a £5 money-off voucher for every customer that gets involved."

MCS chief executive Samantha Fanshawe said: "This week of action is a great opportunity to clean up some of our best loved beaches and remove litter that has built up following recent storms. Rubbish washed up or left on beaches not only harms wildlife but spoils our enjoyment of the coast too, so the more people that take part the more litter we can remove from harm's way. Throughout the year, there will be activities and resources for schoolchildren to learn more about our seas and the fascinating marine life they support."

Canal & River Trust chief executive Richard Parry added: "Our canals are a two hundred year-old national treasure that are enjoyed by millions of people each year. They need looking after, and litter and debris can be a real problem, polluting water, restricting use of the canals and towpaths, and harming wildlife."

Liz Gyekye
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