Great British Beach Clean asks volunteers to record abandoned PPE

Melanie May | 20 July 2020 | News

This year’s Great British Beach Clean sees the Marine Conservation Society asking volunteers to adopt a 100m stretch of beach to survey and litter pick, paying special attention to levels of abandoned PPE.
The annual event will run from 18-25 September this year, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. 
As well as asking people to litter pick, The Great British Beach Clean encourages volunteers to carry out a litter survey, recording what they find on the beaches to help show the most common forms of litter, with the Marine Conservation Society using this data to call for policy change. 
Data collected by Marine Conservation Society volunteers from 26 years of the Great British Beach Clean has been instrumental in the creation of policies including the 5p single-use carrier bag charge, the ban on plastic coffee stirrers and straws and the commitment to a Deposit Return Scheme in Scotland.  
During last year’s Great British Beach Clean weekend, citizen scientists across the UK collected over 500 litter items per 100m of beach, with nearly 11,000 volunteers taking part.  
This year, rather than encouraging volunteers to find a beach clean happening near them, the Marine Conservation Society is calling on individuals to adopt a 100m stretch of beach and organise their own beach cleans, with smaller groups of friends, family and ‘bubbles’, in line with Government guidance. 
MCSUK Porthtowan_Beach_Clean_-_21_Sep_2015
It is also asking volunteers to record how much personal protective equipment they find on the UK’s beaches, including gloves and masks. This information will show how prolific PPE has become and the danger it poses to the marine environment and wildlife.  
Dr Laura Foster, Head of Clean Seas at the Marine Conservation Society said:

“Single use plastic has been used increasingly during the pandemic, but we need to ensure this is not a permanent backwards step. At the same time, we’ve seen people spending more time outdoors and enjoying our beaches. We’re calling on the government for a truly green recovery, fit for a low carbon future. All-inclusive Deposit Return Schemes and an Extended Producer Responsibility system would make huge impacts on the volume of litter we see in the ocean, in our parks and across beaches. We need systematic change and ambitious policy to truly curb the litter polluting our ocean and environment.”    

To make becoming an organiser, adopting a beach and doing the survey as easy as possible, the charity has made resources available on the Marine Conservation Society website with guidance from the charity’s Beachwatch team also on hand.
Image credit: Marine Conservation Society

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