M&S helps to clear 180,000 pieces of beach litter

Staff and customers from Marks and Spencer (M&S) and volunteers from the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) removed more than 180,000 items of rubbish from Britain's beaches during the Big Beach Clean-up in May.

Forty tonnes of waste was picked from 148km of beaches and waterways in the partnership’s largest clean up to date.

The Big Beach Clean-up was organised as part of the Forever Fish partnership between MCS, M&S and the Canal & Waterways Trust. The group aims to decrease plastic bag use and raise awareness of sustainable seafood.

The MCS said the event had helped people appreciate the huge litter problem affecting beaches around the UK. MCS Beachwatch officer Charlotte Coombes said: “The sheer scale of the event, and the enthusiasm of the thousands of volunteers, made it truly memorable.”

Coombes said the litter pickers included 6,000 volunteers, who together cleaned 90 beaches and 42 inland waterways. She said: “Together we picked up over 182,270 items of litter, weighing in at 40 tonnes, with well over 1,200 bits of rubbish for every kilometre that was cleaned.”

Safer beaches

Some of the most common items could were plastic bags, crisp packets, plastic bottles, angling lines, paper, metal and polystyrene. Coombes added: “If the MCS and its volunteers didn’t clean and survey our beaches, we would not be able to continue to pressurise the authorities into keeping marine and beach litter on the agenda.

“Our surveys reveal where the rubbish on our beaches comes from. If we can stop the litter at the source we can make beaches in the UK cleaner and safer places for wildlife and people.”

Studies from the National Centre of Ecological Analysis and Synthesis have found around eight million tonnes of plastic waste enter the world’s water systems each year.

In 2014, UK plastic bag use increased for the fifth consecutive year to more than nine billion bags. England is expected to bring in a plastic bag charge of 5p later this year, joining other UK countries in tackling the plastic waste issue.

Earlier this month,London retailer Selfridges announced it would stop the sale of single-use plastic water bottles in its stores as part of a drive to deal with ocean pollution. The stores will stop the sale of more than 400,000 water bottles each year.

Matt Field

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