News

Shotgun cartridges, false toenails and a bus chair all found on UK beaches last year

Shotgun cartridges, a bus chair, false toenails and a CCTV camera are among some of the oddest items found by volunteers cleaning up the UK’s beaches in 2021.

The Marine Conservation Society’s dedicated community of volunteers head to the coast come rain or shine to keep the UK’s beaches beautiful.

The charity’s volunteers not only clear litter, but record what they find. While some is, unfortunately, to be expected, other beach litter can come as a bit of a surprise!

Results from 2021’s Great British Beach Clean, a week of beach cleaning events across the UK and funded thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery, found litter levels to be dropping. The year-on-year drop suggests policies like plastic bag charges and single-use plastic bans are working. However, 75% of all beach litter collected was made of plastic or polystyrene.

Lizzie Prior, beachwatch manager at the Marine Conservation Society, said: “It’s great to see litter levels continuing to drop on our beaches, but the massive amount of plastic we’re still finding is certainly cause for concern.

“Our dedicated volunteers head to the beach year-round to collect litter and data which is vital to our work. Sometimes, what they find is a little more unusual, and doesn’t quite fit into our survey form’s categories! We’re sharing some of the items that our volunteers came across this year.”

Items found last year by Marine Conservation Society volunteers include:

  • CCTV camera
  • Hearing aid
  • 4 cabbages and 30 orange peels
  • Shotgun cartridges
  • Sofa
  • Bus chair
  • Tool box
  • False toenails
  • Carpet

Many of the unusual items collected by volunteers contain, in some way, plastic. Plastic pieces remain the most prevalent form of litter on UK beaches, with an average of 112 pieces found for every 100 metres of UK beach surveyed.

People’s Postcode Lottery players have raised £3.7 million for Marine Conservation Society and have been supporting both the Great British Beach Clean and the Marine Conservation Society’s beach cleaning programme since 2015.

“While it’s heartening that overall the level of litter on beaches has dropped this year, I was shocked to learn about the huge array of items that have been discarded as waste and have then gone on to be washed up on our beaches,” said Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery.

“It’s a stark reminder that there’s more to be done so I’m delighted that funding raised by our players is supporting Marine Conservation Society – and their wonderful volunteers – to continue this valuable work.”

To learn more about the Marine Conservation Society’s beach clean results, and join as a volunteer, visit https://www.mcsuk.org/