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Litter louts ruin Britain’s beaches

April 26, 2007 at 5:20 am

Throwaway culture is having a serious effect on UK beaches according to research published by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS). Their annual Beachwatch litter survey reveals that litter on UK beaches has increased by a staggering 90.3% since 1994, now averaging around two items of litter for every metre stretch of beach.

Over 4,000 volunteers swept 187km of coastline, recording thousands of items of litter as they went. Individuals, rather than industry, were found to be the biggest culprits, responsible for over a third of the litter found.

Cotton buds that had been flushed down toilets were one of the worst offenders. The number of cigarette stubs ending up on beaches has also dramatically increased. Items which could be recycled were found in abundance, reflecting careless attitudes to the disposal of packaging.

Beach litter top ten:

– Plastic pieces (1cm-50cm)
– Cotton buds
– Plastic pieces (less than 1cm)
– Crisp/sweet wrappers
– Polystyrene
– Plastic lids
– Rope
– Cigarette stubs
– Plastic drink bottles
– Fishing nets

At 2,525 items per kilometre, Welsh beaches had the highest levels of litter, followed by Scotland, England and the Channel Islands. Northern Ireland had the lowest litter levels of all UK countries with 625 items/km.

The full Beachwatch report can be viewed at the MCS’s Adoptabeach website. The site also contains details of how to get involved in caring for the UK’s coastal environment.

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