The largest annual beach clean-up across the United Kingdom will take place this September as previous survey data gives little hope for a fall in litter quantities.

The ‘Beachwatch Big Weekend’, as organised by Seas At Risk member the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), takes place every third weekend of September. The event has been running for the past 18 years and attracted 4,665 volunteers last year, cleaning up just under 400 beaches.

The event however offers more than just an opportunity to bag up litter. MCS also uses the event to survey what items make up the litter so as to provide further insight into this growing problem.

Indeed, research since 1994 has shown a dramatic increase in the amount of litter with a 77% increase recorded. The amount of plastic litter in the same period has increased by a staggering 121% and addition MCS has found that average litter densities on surveyed UK beaches are now over 1,800 litter items/km.

Earlier this year MCS produced a ‘backing paper’ that called on the UK government, industry and public to take up a number of initiatives to prevent litter entering the marine environment. MCS called for action in a number of diverse areas including shipping, fishing, public littering and waste-water treatment.


The Big Weekend falls just before a major marine environment summit of European ministers – the OSPAR North-East Atlantic Environment Summit - in Bergen, Noway.

Environment Ministers of countries close to, or surrounding the North-East Atlantic, will meet and discuss several marine environmental concerns, including the problem of marine litter.

Seas At Risk is an observer party at OSPAR and will be actively involved in the summit, pressing for stronger international action to prevent litter in all its forms entering the marine environment.


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