Help the Great British Beach Clean make an even bigger difference to the UK’s beach litter problem

Image: Marine Conservation Society

Help the Great British Beach Clean make an even bigger difference to the UK’s beach litter problem

Adopt a beach and organise a clean-up with the support of the UK’s leading marine charity

The Marine Conservation Society is appealing for people to become part of the solution to the litter problem that is engulfing UK beaches by adopting a beach and leading a clean-up and survey during this year’s Great British Beach Clean (20 – 23 September 2019).

During last year’s event, volunteer cleaners picked up over 600 items of litter for every 100m of UK coastline surveyed. Just short of 15,000 volunteers took part – double the number in 2017.

MCS says it hopes the 26th Great British Beach Clean will continue to smash records when it comes to volunteer numbers – but not litter amounts. The charity is appealing for more organisers to lead even more beach cleans around the UK coastline – 494 were cleaned in 2018, an increase of 155 on the previous year.

“Cleaning so many individual beaches last year was a fabulous achievement by our volunteer cleaners and organisers,” says Lizzie Prior, MCS Beachwatch Officer. “But we know that it’s only the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds and hundreds of beaches around our coasts that have never been cleaned and surveyed – and it’s the collection of this data that is so important to getting even more positive actions implemented than have already been achieved in the last year or so.”

Data collected by volunteers from the 25 years of MCS-led Great British Beach Cleans has been instrumental in the introduction of the 5p single-use carrier bag charge, the ban on microbeads in personal cleaning products like shower gels and toothpastes, the commitment to a Deposit Return Scheme in Scotland (and the consultation on one in England and Wales), and a ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds in England from next year.

“This year we’re appealing for more people to adopt a beach and become one of our army of beach clean organisers,” says Lizzie Prior. “It’s an absolutely vital role because the more beaches we have litter data for, the clearer the picture we will have of where it all comes from and what needs to be targeted next.”

This year, for the first time, the Great British Beach Clean will be sponsored by the Ocado Foundation, the charitable arm of the online supermarket. The Foundation will be sponsoring the event to the tune of £300,000 as part of the Environmental Pillar of its ‘Ocado Way 2020 Vision’.

Anne Thwaites is the MCS Corporate Partnership Manager who will be working closely with the Ocado Foundation. She says Ocado’s drive for operational efficiency and sustainability is very encouraging: “Working with the Ocado Foundation is a fantastic opportunity for us to share best practice on a joint vision to reduce single-use plastics in the business as well as the domestic environment. We are impressed with Ocado’s drive towards minimising their ecological footprint and will work together on beaches across the UK this September to support thousands of volunteers who will be part of the biggest GBBC yet.”

Suzanne Westlake, Head of Corporate Responsibility & Corporate Affairs said on behalf of the Ocado Foundation: “We’re delighted to be teaming up with the Marine Conservation Society on the GBBC. It will be an amazing four day event and one we are proud to be a part of.”

Less litter on UK beaches will save the lives of some of our best loved marine wildlife, protect our kids when they’re building sand castles and show the world what the great British seaside really looks like beneath its escalating mountain of rubbish.

Becoming a Great British Beach Clean organiser couldn’t be easier – find a beach you want to clean – sign up and register it on the MCS online system – and MCS will provide you with all the help you need to get going. www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch

“We hope to have even more people cleaning up Britain’s beaches this September than we did last year, so registering your events with us soon is invaluable,” added Lizzie Prior.

Players of People’s Postcode Lottery also support the MCS beach litter programme.