Volunteers Cleaned Up The UK's Beaches. Here's What They Found

The amount of litter increased by a third

On one September weekend last year, a group of volunteers descended upon the UK's beaches for a nationwide clean up.

Organised by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), the litter pickers found more than 8,000 plastic bottles on 340 beaches in just two days.

On average, 99 bottles were picked up along every kilometre, with a 34% rise in beach litter overall between 2014 and 2015. A "staggering" 3,298 pieces of litter were found per kilometre, according to the MCS.

The number of plastic drinks bottles found increased by 43%, metal drinks cans by almost 29%, and drinks container caps and lids by 41%.

Lauren Eyles, MCS Beachwatch Manager, said: "The bottles we find on beaches are either dropped directly onto the beach, blown from land or sea, or end up there via rivers. The more we use as a nation, the more we’ll see ending up on our shores."

Eyles urged the government to bring back Deposit Return Systems (DRS), which currently run successfully in Germany, Denmark, and some in the USA, and have been found to reduce the number of littered drink containers. Up until last year, the makers of Irn-Bru were giving 30p to anyone returning their glass bottles.

"A coordinated UK-wide system would have an even greater impact on litter levels," Eyles said. "There’s clearly an appetite for it in Wales and Scotland, but it seems Westminster is hanging fire – just like it did with the single use carrier bag charge."

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