Scotland’s beaches are getting muckier

Messybeachweb

The Marine Conservation Society has discovered large numbers of disposable food and drink containers and a dramatic increase in wet wipes

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30th November 2017 by Susan Smith 0 Comments

Litter on Scottish beaches has increased by 6% in just a year, new research has found.

Food and drinks litter makes up nearly 20% of all rubbish found on beaches during Marine Conservation Society (MCS) clean ups earlier this year.

MCS found that litter classed as "on the go" items made up 17% of all litter found on Scottish beaches and 64% of all litter that comes from the public. 83 pieces of on the go litter were found on average per 100m of beaches cleaned and surveyed.

The charity categorises drinks 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 litter.

MCS says the figures highlight our bad 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.

The charity says it's time for a levy on single-use items that are handed over, free of charge, in their millions when we're eating and drinking out and about.

It says the levy should be imposed on such items as straws, cups, lids, stirrers and cutlery and at each home nation level since environmental levies are a devolved matter.

If a levy was placed on single use plastic such as straws, stirrers, cutlery, cups and cup lids, we're confident that we'd find fewer of these items on Scotland’s beaches

Catherine Gemmell, MCS Scotland Conservation Officer, says: "Scotland’s 5p single-use carrier bag charge has made a massive difference to the number of plastic bags entering our seas, combined with similar charges elsewhere in the UK, and we believe we will see a similar impact on bottles and cans when Scotland’s Deposit Return System is implemented.

“If a levy was placed on single use plastic such as straws, stirrers, cutlery, cups and cup lids, we're confident that we'd find fewer of these items on Scotland’s beaches.”

The general rise in litter is overshadowed in Scotland by the staggering figures when it comes to sewage related debris (SRD) – the stuff people are putting down the loo when really they should be putting it in a bin.

SRD went up 40% on Scottish beaches compared to 2016 with wet wipes – where there’s much confusion over labelling of what can and can’t be flushed – increasing by 141%.

The figures from the event, that took place between the 15 to 18 September, revealed that 21% of all Scottish beach litter is from bathrooms, compared to 8% in the rest of the UK.

Gemmell continued: “No one wants to swim with a flushed wet wipe or make a sand castle out of cotton bud sticks – we can all make a difference for our seas and beaches both for society and wildlife.

“We need everyone to only flush the three P's down the loo – pee, poo and paper – that’s all! Everything else needs to go in the bin so it doesn't end up on our beautiful beaches.”