Plastic litter is a threat
- Credit: Archant
Marine wildlife is seriously under threat from plastic rubbish left on beaches along our coastline.
A litter survey carried out on a random patch of beach at North Denes in Great Yarmouth, a reporter for this newspaper collected two bags full of rubbish in an hour.
A new report has revealed that litter left on the United Kingdom’s beaches has gone up by 13pc in just the last year.
On average 911 items of rubbish were left on every 100m of English beach this year, a high proportion of which were plastics and polystyrene pieces which pose a serious danger to marine wildlife.
At North Denes the litter consisted mainly of what would be described as picnic remnants, with plastic crisp packets and sweet wrappers featuring heavily.
Crisp packets are particularly bad as creatures can crawl inside for shelter, only for them to fill with water.
This danger was demonstrated on the dunes at North Denes when our reporter found a snail drowned in a crisp packet.
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A nearby cafe called Munchies has been helping with the effort to clean up the beach by letting tourists take part in a ‘two minute beach clean’ as part a Keep Britain Tidy Campaign.
The cafe’s owner Mark Allen said he also offers free teas and coffees to groups taking part in larger scale beach cleans.
To combat the rise in litter levels along the coastline, the Marine Conservation Society sends out their 7,000 volunteers every year to carry out the ‘Great British Clean’ on 339 beaches.
Having analysed their discoveries, the charity is now calling for a crackdown on other items of rubbish they frequently find on beaches by imposing a levy on single-use items which are free of charge.
These include straws, cups, lids, stirrers and plastic cutlery.
Lizzie Prior, MCS Beach and River Clean project officer, says: “The 5p single-use carrier bag charge has made a massive difference to the number of plastic bags entering our seas.
“If a levy was placed on single use plastic we’re confident that we’d find fewer of these items on our beaches.”
Other items most commonly found on UK beaches were packets for crisps and sandwiches, glass, and cigarette stubs.
To get involved, or find out more about beach cleans, visit www.mscuk.org.