The Marine Conservation Society’s annual Great British Beach Clean is back, running from 16th-25thSeptember 2022. The charity is now calling for volunteers across the UK to join them at the coast for a week of beach cleaning and litter surveying.

Every year volunteers make note of the litter they collect, sharing the data with the Marine Conservation Society’s experts. The charity has used data collected to campaign for carrier bag charges, single-use plastic bags and, due to start in August 2023, Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme for bottles and cans.

Last year, volunteers in Scotland collected over two tonnes of litter, with an average of 3.46items recorded for every metre of beach surveyed across Scotland. At last year’s Great British Beach Clean, 70% of all litter collected from beaches surveyed in Scotland was made from plastic and polystyrene. From production to disposal, plastic has a direct impact on the ocean’s capacity to combat the climate crisis. Manufacturing plastic contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Most plastic is produced using fossil fuels, meaning more plastic production results in increased carbon emissions. Plastic is also entering the food chain, from tiny phytoplankton to ocean giants, like whales.

“We need to stop plastic entering our ocean at source by fairly transitioning to a Circular Economy where nothing is wasted and we move to a society of reuse, repair and refill.” Commented Catherine Gemmell, Scotland Conservation Officer at the Marine Conservation Society. “The Scottish Government is consulting right now on a Circular Economy Bill and the data our volunteers collect is vital evidence used to call for swift and ambitious action.

“Our volunteers have helped provide vital evidence to ban single-use plastic items like cutlery and cotton bud sticks. With 25 wet wipes found on average per 100m of surveyed Scottish beach during the 2021 Great British Beach Clean our data is also currently being used to call for a ban on single use plastic wet wipes. We need government to be faster at turning off the single-use tap still pouring into Scottish Seas.” Catherine has previously spoken for the RSGS Inspiring People programme, on her passion for our oceans and shores, and the importance of stopping the plastic tide.

Dr Laura Foster, Head of Clean Seas at the Marine Conservation Society, said: “pollution, whether it’s big, small or even invisible, is having a hugely negative impact on our ocean and all those who rely on it–including us. Tiny microplastics are being eaten by plankton at the very foundation of ocean ecosystems, animals big and small are being tangled in plastic packaging, turtles are mistaking it for food, and chemical pollution is changing the ocean’s chemistry.

“All of this is an alarming picture of the state of our seas, but each and every volunteer who joins the Great British Beach Clean helps us research the scale of pollution in the UK. This research is vital to stop pollution at source, and we know it works. Cleaner beaches will support a healthy ocean, and a healthy planet.“

Cullen Allen (Aka Cully) from Cully & Sully, who are sponsoring the Great British Beach Clean, said: “We’re delighted to be part of the Great British Beach Clean 2022. We’ve supported beach cleans in Ireland for the past 4 years and are excited about extending our commitments to the Great British Beach Clean. We’re excited to take part and get started, and of course spread the word on the importance of keeping our beaches and public spaces clean”. Join the Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean as an organiser, or volunteer, this year.

Sign up to volunteer for the next Great British Beach clean through the Marine Conservation Society’s website.