The Marine Conservation Society are urging the British public to organise a local beach clean as part of this year's Great British Beach Clean being held between 18-25 September.
Lizzie Prior, Beachwatch Officer at the Marine Conservations Society, said the events will be a "fantastic opportunity to get a sense of what litter is blighting the coastline".
She added: "Data from our litter surveys have helped us push for policy change including the 5p plastic carrier bag charge. Taking part in this year’s events is a fantastic way to protect your local beach, support your local community and help gather important data for our future policy work.”
The events come after local authorities from around England's coasts report unprecedented levels of litter since the lifting of lockdown restrictions.
The Local Government Association Special Interest Group on Coastal Issues (LGA SIG) say they have received numerous reports of high levels of discarded PPE such as single-use masks and plastic gloves along British beaches and in the water, unprecedented levels of illegal “wild” camping, which has caused issues with human waste and toilet paper/wipes on our coast, as well as incidents of fire damage and injury from campfires and BBQs.
In addition to well-publicised single-use litter like plastic bags, local authorities have reported an increase in PPE related litter, with plastic gloves and masks adding to beach pollution. Much like other single-use litter, PPE poses a threat to marine life which can be entangled in it, or ingest it.
Councillor Ernest Gibson, Chairman of the LGA Coastal SIG, said: “Local authorities are working extra hard in these difficult circumstances by providing more bins and litter patrols, but people must start taking responsibility for their own litter. No one wants their children to be swimming in a sea full of used masks or burning their little feet on a discarded BBQ – put your litter in a bin or, if the bin is full, take it home with you.”
The LGA SIG on Coastal Issues, alongside the Marine Conservation Society, are now calling on the public to help protect the UK’s coastline this summer.
For more information about how to get involved in the Great British Beach Clean and host a beach clean event, visit: https://www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/organisers