More plastic rubbish is finding its way onto Britains beaches than ever before, according to a new study.
Plastic debris now accounts for more than 58% of all litter found on UK beaches. The research shows people are throwing away more plastic bags, cigarette butts, plastic bottles and sweet wrappers.
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) conducted the MCS Beachwatch 2007 Report and found that plastic litter on British beaches had increased by 126% since its annual survey began in 1994. The research also found that in the last 10 years plastic bottle litter had increased by 67%, plastic bags by 54% and cigarette butts by 44%.
Litter policy officer Sue Kinsey told MRW: Putting recycling bins across beaches will only be a small part of the solution. It will not solve all the main problems. We need to be a bit more careful on what we do and should not throw away plastic bottles and tacky wrappers. We need to dispose of it properly.
Some plastics are thrown into drains and end up on the shore but we think most of it is coming from shipping and fishing. A lot of used plastic ends up in the oceans for a long time and then get washed onto the beach - nobody wants to sit on a beach which is littered with rubbish.
The report is based on data collected by almost 4,000 volunteers on 354 UK beaches surveyed last September. It identifies four key sources of beach litter; recreational and beach visitors (35.3%), fishing litter (13.7%), sewage related debris/sanitary waste (6.1%) and shipping litter (1.8%).
Litter projects co-ordinator Emma Snowden said: The plastic litter problem needs to be tackled at all levels, from grassroots through to Government, while industry and retail sectors must acknowledge the need to reduce plastic bag use and packaging.
By taking simple steps such as taking re-usable bags to the supermarket, re-filling plastic bottles with good old-fashioned tap water, and disposing of litter responsibly, including cigarette butts, we can all make a difference.
Image: Marine Conservation Society logo