Is this the proof we are winning the war on plastic? Beach litter is down and recycling is up in major boost for green campaigns
- Plastic pollution has fallen to 385 items of litter per stretch of beach this year
- This is down from 558 items in 2019, according to the Great British Beach Clean
- Survey by sustainability charity Regroup found plastic recycling up 4% last year
Plastic pollution in the UK may finally be falling with recycling on the rise and less litter dropped at the seaside.
Just 385 items of litter were found per stretch of beach this year – down from 558 in 2019 – according to national litter-picking event The Great British Beach Clean.
And plastic recycling rose 4 per cent last year, according to a survey by sustainability charity Recoup.
It is a major victory for the Daily Mail which has long campaigned to quash plastic pollution.
Just 385 items of litter were found per stretch of beach this year – down from 558 in 2019 – according to national litter-picking event The Great British Beach Clean
This includes championing calls for a deposit return scheme and to introduce charges on single-use plastic bags.
However, despite the drop, charities warned that the UK still has a long way to go to reach Government targets to tackle the issue.
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS), which organises the beach clean, said that plastic and polystyrene remain the most common types of litter – accounting for 75 per cent of seaside waste.
Crisp and sweet packets, as well as plastic caps and lids, were among the most common items found across the country.
And PPE, such as face masks and gloves, was found discarded on nearly one in three beaches.
However the number of cotton bud sticks collected fell to its lowest level in the event’s 28-year history – with only six found on average.
The MCS said this was ‘likely’ due to policies banning the items, which were introduced in Scotland in 2019 and in England last year.
Numbers of single-use plastic bags also continued to drop, from a high of 13 in 2013 down to just three this year.
The MCS’s Lizzie Prior said: ‘The ongoing downward trend we’re seeing in litter levels on UK beaches is a positive sign that the actions we’re taking at a personal, local and national level are working.
‘But we can’t sit back and relax. Now is the time for even more ambitious action.’
Her calls were echoed by Recoup which said that, although progress was being made, the UK had a long way to go.
Its survey estimated that 584,000 tons of household plastic packaging were collected for recycling last year – an increase of 24,000 tons (4 per cent) on 2019.
However the UK will need to double this amount so as to meet the Goverment’s target of recycling 70 per cent of plastic packaging by 2025.
Around 75 per cent of drinks bottles made out of clear PET plastic – including water bottles – were recycled. And 78 per cent of plastic milk bottles were collected for recycling.
However only a third of plastic pots, tubs and trays were recycled.