Being by the sea makes us feel better, and the Great British Beach Clean isn’t just a good day out for people who love, or live near, the coast – it’s great for wildlife and the beach too!
 
The Great British Beach Clean, now in its 25th year, not only spruces up hundreds of beaches around the coast, but volunteers also record the litter they find, and it’s this aspect that has really helped MCS change policy and behaviours over the last quarter of a century.
 
The 5p carrier bag charge, a ban on microbeads in wash-off products, consultations on a plastic tax and deposit return schemes, reduction in the use of plastic straws and the banning of lantern and balloon releases – all have come about following compelling evidence gathered over decades of MCS beach cleans. 
 
The 2017 Great British Beach Clean saw almost 7,000 volunteer beach cleaners pick up record amounts of litter from 339 UK beaches - a staggering 718 bits of rubbish from every 100 metres cleaned. That was a 10% rise in the amount of beach litter picked up during the 2016 event.
 
Beach cleans take place from Cornwall to Cumbria, Denbighshire to County Down, Hampshire to the Highlands and all places in between. The event incorporates the Great Channel Islands Beach Clean and the Great Northern Irish Beach clean. 
 
For the second year running, the Great British Beach Clean in England is being sponsored by Waitrose who are supporting MCS’ year round beach and river clean programme.
 
Beach litter has steadily risen over the 24 years since MCS began recording it. However, there was some good news last year because the number of single-use plastic bags found on UK beaches almost halved between 2015 and 2016. MCS says this was almost certainly due to the charges at the checkout and shows the impact that behaviour change can have on beach litter. 
 
In 2017, 'on the go' items made up 20% of all litter found on the UK’s beaches and 63% of all litter that comes from the public. MCS categorises cardboard cups, plastic cutlery, foil wrappers, straws, sandwich packets, lolly sticks, plastic bottles, drinks cans, glass bottles, plastic cups, lids and stirrers as 'on the go'. The charity says the figures highlight the nation’s lazy habits when it comes to littering. The amount of litter suggests we're treating the outdoors as a big dustbin, happy to dump at will rather than keep hold of our litter until we find a bin.
 
“Taking part in the Great British Beach Clean really can make a difference. In previous years when we’ve highlighted increases in dog poo bags and sewage related debris found on beaches, we’ve seen drops in numbers subsequently. Due to the massive increase in wet wipes we found between 2013 and 2015 we were able to launch our ‘Wet Wipes Turn Nasty’ campaign which has resulted in improvements in labelling, removal of plastic from 'flushable' wet wipes in retailers’ own brands, and shown retailers the need for their flushable wipes to pass water industry standards.” says Lizzie Prior, MCS Beach and River Clean Project Officer. 
 
Cleaning and surveying a beach only takes a couple of hours at most. Each beach has a coordinator, who explains how to fill in a simple data form, and then it’s just a case of grabbing a litter picker and a bin bag and filling it up with rubbish!
 
If you can’t find a beach clean near you, you can organise one, too.
 
“Beach litter is a serious environmental problem,” says Lizzie Prior. “But the solution is in our hands. We want the 25th Great British Beach Clean weekend to be the biggest ever. The BBC’s Blue Planet II has given the UK public a real understanding of the pollution crisis facing our oceans and people really want to make a difference. The more volunteers we have, the better it’ll be for our seas.” 
 
Tor Harris, Head of Responsible Sourcing and Sustainability at Waitrose, said:
 
“Our coast is important to all of us so the Great British Beach Clean is a key opportunity to reduce pollution, especially from plastics. We’re really happy to support such a fantastic event and this builds on our environmental commitment to ensure that all our packaging is widely recyclable, reusable or home compostable by 2025. We’d love for our customers and Partners (employees) to sign up and organise local beach cleans to improve them for wildlife and all of us.”
 
Join the The Great British Beach Clean (part of the Waitrose Beach and River Clean-up) and be part of the biggest and most influential fight against marine litter in the UK. 
 
Players of People’s Postcode Lottery also support the Marine Conservation Society beach litter programme.
 
Sign up to a clean near you at www.mcsuk.org/greatbritishbeachclean or call 01989 566017.
 
-ends-
 
Press Contacts:
MCS Editorial and Media Officer: Clare Fischer – 01989 561658/07751905535
MCS Beach and River Clean Projects Officer : Lizzie Prior – 01989 561577
MCS Head of Communications: Richard Harrington – 01989 561585/07793118384
 
Editors notes:
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is the UK charity dedicated to protecting our seas, shores and wildlife. MCS campaigns for clean seas and beaches, sustainable fisheries, and protection of marine life. Through education, community involvement and collaboration, MCS raises awareness of the many threats that face our seas and promotes individual, industry and government action to protect the marine environment. MCS provides information and guidance on many aspects of marine conservation and produces the annual Good Beach Guide and the Good Fish Guide as well as involving thousands of volunteers in projects and surveys such as MCS Beachwatch. www.mcsuk.org.
MCS Beachwatch is MCS’ coastal environmental initiative, supporting local individuals, groups and communities in caring for their local shoreline. MCS Great British Beach Clean is our annual flagship event, now in its 23rd year, and it occurs on the third weekend of every September. It represents the UK’s input to the global International Coastal Cleanup (representing 152 countries and locations), which occurs over the same weekend in September, providing a world-wide snapshot of marine litter.
Waitrose has 353 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 65 convenience branches, and another 27 shops at Welcome Break locations. It combines the convenience of a supermarket with the expertise and service of a specialist shop - dedicated to offering quality food that has been responsibly sourced, combined with high standards of customer service.
Waitrose also exports products to 52 countries worldwide and has nine shops which operate under licence in the Middle East. Waitrose's omnichannel business includes the online grocery service, Waitrose.com, as well as specialist online shops including waitrosecellar.com for wine and waitroseflorist.com for plants and flowers. In recent months, Waitrose has been awarded the much-coveted European-wide Compassion in World Farming 'Best Retailer Award', Soil Association's 'Best Organic Supermarket Award 2017' and The Drinks Business' 'Retail Buying Team of the Year Award'.
Plastic carrier bag levy funds raised in England can only be spent in England so only English beach and river cleans are being sponsored by Waitrose. £500,000 is being donated to MCS for approximately 1000 beach and river clean-ups. A further £500,000 will be donated by Waitrose to projects tackling plastics in the environment. The retailer’s plastic bag money raised in the rest of the UK is pledged to other charitable causes in Scotland and Wales and more information can be found on the Waitrose website.
Players of People’s Postcode Lottery support the Marine Conservation Society beach litter programme.
• People’s Postcode Lottery is a charity lottery. Players play with their postcodes to win cash prizes, while raising money for charities and good causes across Great Britain and globally.
• A minimum of 30% goes directly to charities and players have raised £310 Million for good causes across the country to date.
 
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Being by the sea makes us feel better, and the Great British Beach Clean isn’t just a good day out for people who love, or live near, the coast – it’s great for wildlife and the beach too!

The Great British Beach Clean, now in its 25th year, not only spruces up hundreds of beaches around the coast, but volunteers also record the litter they find, and it’s this aspect that has really helped MCS change policy and behaviours over the last quarter of a century.

The 5p carrier bag charge, a ban on microbeads in wash-off products, consultations on a plastic tax and deposit return schemes, reduction in the use of plastic straws and the banning of lantern and balloon releases – all have come about following compelling evidence gathered over decades of MCS beach cleans. 

The 2017 Great British Beach Clean saw almost 7,000 volunteer beach cleaners pick up record amounts of litter from 339 UK beaches - a staggering 718 bits of rubbish from every 100 metres cleaned. That was a 10% rise in the amount of beach litter picked up during the 2016 event.

Beach cleans take place from Cornwall to Cumbria, Denbighshire to County Down, Hampshire to the Highlands and all places in between. The event incorporates the Great Channel Islands Beach Clean and the Great Northern Irish Beach clean. 

For the second year running, the Great British Beach Clean in England is being sponsored by Waitrose who are supporting MCS’ year round beach and river clean programme.

Beach litter has steadily risen over the 24 years since MCS began recording it. However, there was some good news last year because the number of single-use plastic bags found on UK beaches almost halved between 2015 and 2016. MCS says this was almost certainly due to the charges at the checkout and shows the impact that behaviour change can have on beach litter. 

In 2017, 'on the go' items made up 20% of all litter found on the UK’s beaches and 63% of all litter that comes from the public. MCS categorises cardboard cups, plastic cutlery, foil wrappers, straws, sandwich packets, lolly sticks, plastic bottles, drinks cans, glass bottles, plastic cups, lids and stirrers as 'on the go'. The charity says the figures highlight the nation’s lazy habits when it comes to littering. The amount of litter suggests we're treating the outdoors as a big dustbin, happy to dump at will rather than keep hold of our litter until we find a bin.

“Taking part in the Great British Beach Clean really can make a difference. In previous years when we’ve highlighted increases in dog poo bags and sewage related debris found on beaches, we’ve seen drops in numbers subsequently. Due to the massive increase in wet wipes we found between 2013 and 2015 we were able to launch our ‘Wet Wipes Turn Nasty’ campaign which has resulted in improvements in labelling, removal of plastic from 'flushable' wet wipes in retailers’ own brands, and shown retailers the need for their flushable wipes to pass water industry standards.” says Lizzie Prior, MCS Beach and River Clean Project Officer. 

Cleaning and surveying a beach only takes a couple of hours at most. Each beach has a coordinator, who explains how to fill in a simple data form, and then it’s just a case of grabbing a litter picker and a bin bag and filling it up with rubbish!

If you can’t find a beach clean near you, you can organise one, too.

“Beach litter is a serious environmental problem,” says Lizzie Prior. “But the solution is in our hands. We want the 25th Great British Beach Clean weekend to be the biggest ever. The BBC’s Blue Planet II has given the UK public a real understanding of the pollution crisis facing our oceans and people really want to make a difference. The more volunteers we have, the better it’ll be for our seas.” 

Tor Harris, Head of Responsible Sourcing and Sustainability at Waitrose, said:

“Our coast is important to all of us so the Great British Beach Clean is a key opportunity to reduce pollution, especially from plastics. We’re really happy to support such a fantastic event and this builds on our environmental commitment to ensure that all our packaging is widely recyclable, reusable or home compostable by 2025. We’d love for our customers and Partners (employees) to sign up and organise local beach cleans to improve them for wildlife and all of us.”

Join the The Great British Beach Clean (part of the Waitrose Beach and River Clean-up) and be part of the biggest and most influential fight against marine litter in the UK. 

Players of People’s Postcode Lottery also support the Marine Conservation Society beach litter programme. 

Sign up to a clean near you at www.mcsuk.org/greatbritishbeachclean or call 01989 566017.