P1 Marine Foundation

In September 2010, P1 launched a registered charity which has as its principal objective the promotion of the conservation, protection and improvement of the marine and coastal environment. The Foundation focuses on conservation by supporting research, raising awareness of serious threats to the oceans and creating selected partnerships.

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  • Address: Queen Anne Mansions
    86/87 Wimpole Street
    London W1G 9RL
    United Kingdom
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Date: Fri 03 Dec 2021

Beach litter going down, but plastic still polluting UK shores

From an article in Marine Industry News Daily

The results from the Marine Conservation Society’s annual Great British Beach Clean have revealed that beach litter is going down, but plastic pieces remain the most prevalent form of litter on UK beaches, with 75 per cent of all litter collected being plastic or polystyrene.

The beach clean event, which this year took place from 17 – 26 September, saw at total of 5064.8kg of litter collected by 6,176 volunteers from their local streets, parks and over 55,000 metres of UK beaches.

An average of 385 items of litter per 100m were found this year, showing a year on year drop from an average of 425 in 2020, and 558 in 2019.

This year’s top five most common litter items found on UK beaches (average per 100m) were:

  1. Plastic and polystyrene pieces (111.7)
  2. Cigarette stubs (27.8)
  3. Crisp and sweet packets, lolly sticks etc (25.9)
  4. Plastic caps and lids (15.5)
  5. String/cord (15.3)

Cotton bud sticks moved out of the UK’s top ten most common rubbish items this year, with the number collected being the lowest in the Great British Beach Clean’s 28-year history. This year, an average of six plastic cotton bud sticks were found, dropping from 15 in 2020. According to the Marine Conservation Society, these decreasing figures are a positive indication that policies banning the manufacture of such items are working.

Numbers of single-use plastic bags on beaches have also continued to drop, from a high of 13 on average in 2013, down to just 3 in 2021.

Lizzie Prior, Beachwatch manager at the Marine Conservation Society, comments: “The ongoing downward trend we’re seeing in litter levels on UK beaches is a positive sign that the actions we’re taking at a personal, local and national level are working. But we can’t sit back and relax, now is the time for even more ambitious action.”

With so much of the beach litter collected being made from plastic, the Marine Conservation Society says it will continue to campaign for ambitious single-use plastics policies which would phase out the manufacture and sale of plastic products in the UK.

“UK governments’ current piecemeal approach to single-use plastics policy just won’t cut it anymore. While we’re seeing a downward trend in litter on beaches, we’re still seeing huge volumes of plastic washing up on our shores,” says Dr Laura Foster, head of clean seas at the Marine Conservation Society.

“A shocking 75 per cent of all the litter we collected from UK beaches this year was made of plastic or polystyrene, so it’s clear what we need to focus our attention on. Comprehensive and ambitious single-use plastics policies which reduce the manufacture and sale of items is the quickest way of phasing out plastic from our environment.”