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Beach clean-ups ‘will not solve litter crisis’

Sea help: Three of the 15,000 volunteers in the Great British Beach Clean who picked up litter at 500 locations PICTURE: PA

BEACH clean-ups are not enough to solve the litter crisis, warned environmental campaigners, as the level of waste in our seas keeps rising.

The Marine Conservation Society, organiser of the annual Great British Beach Clean, said 15,000 volunteers took part in this September’s event — nearly double the number of last year — with around 500 beaches involved.

Volunteers collected around 600 items per 100 yards, which included an average of 38 plastic caps and lids, 21 cotton buds, 12 wet wipes, six bottles and cans and five plastic bags. The total was 16 per cent less than last year, but MSC spokesman Lizzie Prior called the reduction a ‘false dawn’.

She said beach cleaning was now ‘bang on trend’, thanks to programmes like the BBC’s Blue Planet II series and Drowning In Plastic documentary, as well as Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign. ‘We may have found less litter because so many more people are cleaning beaches whenever and wherever they can,’ Ms Prior said. She added: ‘The government must certainly not think the crisis is over and slow down or shelve legislation. There’s more litter in our seas than there has ever been.’

She described it as ‘disappointing’ that the recent Budget had only one measure for reducing plastic usage.