M&S calls on customers to tackle Britain’s littered beaches

British retailer Marks and Spencer (M&S) is calling on customers to join 3,000 of its employees on its annual litter-pick along Britain's beaches and canals, following news that litter levels are rising.

M&S expects 5,000 of its customers to join the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and the Canal & River Trust to take part in the fourth annual Big Beach Clean Up. The event will clean 135 beaches and canals up and down the country.

Last year 250km of coastline and canals were cleaned, and 4,000 bin bags full of litter were collected, including 10,950 cotton buds, 21,900 wrappers and 55,600 plastic pieces.

“The Big Beach Clean Up is a great way to support the community and help safeguard the future of UK fish stocks,” saidM&S director of retail Sacha Berendji.

“Clean waterways and beaches mean clean seas and our store colleagues up and down the country will be making preparations to clean their local beach or canal. We want as many customers as possible to be alongside them in May, it’s a simple, fun way to volunteer and make a difference.”

Government Action

MSC chief executive, Samantha Fanshawe, said that beyond removing the existing litter, the event raised awareness of the issue and the need for nation-wide action to stop litter at source.

Just last week MSC called on the Government to take more action after it found litter levels on Britain’s beaches had risen 6.4% in just one year. The number of wet wipes found was of particular concern as numbers have risen by 50% over the same time.

Fanshawe added: “The Big Beach Clean-up has grown year on year, involving thousands of amazing volunteers ready to don gloves and bags and pick up the rubbish left behind by others, washed down from rivers or discarded from fishing boats and ships. Beach litter levels around the UK are sadly increasing – by over 6% according to our most recent UK survey.”

Circular process

Since it began in May 2012 over 20,000 people have taken part and 62.5 tonnes of litter has been cleared. The event is funded by the £8m profits raised from the 5p carrier bag charge in M&S foodhalls. Since its introduction in 2008, the charge has reduced carrier bag use by 75%.

Last year M&S re-launched its sustainability initiative as Plan A 2020, including 100 new commitments to improve M&S’ operations and move towards more sustainable ways of doing business.

Lucinda Dann

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