Clean-up volunteers asked to record plastic PPE found on UK beaches

12th of October 2020
Clean-up volunteers asked to record plastic PPE found on UK beaches

Volunteers at this year's Great British Beach Clean have been asked to record the number of masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment they come across on the beach.

The idea is to obtain a clearer picture of the volume of plastic that has been discarded during the coronavirus pandemic and ascertain their impact on the environment.

The event, now in its 27th year, is organised by the Marine Conservation Society. "It's likely we've all seen masks and gloves littering our local area whether it's on the coast or in our street," said MCS beach watch officer Lizzie Prior,

"Much like other single-use litter, face masks and plastic gloves put our seas and marine life in danger. PPE can be mistaken for food and ingested by marine life or trap animals in the elastic straps of face masks. It's so upsetting to see another form of single-use litter polluting the UK's beautiful beaches and we're determined to ensure this doesn't become a new normal."

Participants of this year's September clean-up were asked to organise their own surveys within small groups of friends, family and "bubbles" in line with government guidance.

More than 10,000 volunteers took part in the 2019 event in which almost 11 tonnes of litter was cleared away from 437 beaches. The results of this year's clean-up will be announced later this autumn.

According to the Marine Conservation Society, information collected from previous events has played a key role in reducing plastic waste. Beach clean-ups have contributed to the introduction of a charge for single-use carrier bags and have led to bans on plastic straws, stirrers, cotton buds and microbeads in shower gels and toothpaste.


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