Organised by The Marine Conservation Society, the annual event calls for volunteers across Scotland to join in a week of beach cleaning and litter surveying.
As well as offering an opportunity for a good clean-up, every year volunteers make note of the litter they collect, sharing the data with the Marine Conservation Society’s experts.
The charity has used data collected to campaign for carrier bag charges, single-use plastic bans and, due to start in August 2023, Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme for bottles and cans.
Last year, volunteers in Scotland collected over two tonnes of litter, with an average of 3.46 items recorded for every metre of beach surveyed across Scotland.
At last year’s Great British Beach Clean, 70% of all litter collected from beaches surveyed in Scotland was made from plastic and polystyrene.
Catherine Gemmell, the society’s Scotland conservation officer, said: “We need to stop plastic entering our ocean at source by fairly transitioning to a Circular Economy where nothing is wasted and we move to a society of reuse, repair and refill. The Scottish Government is consulting right now on a Circular Economy Bill and the data our volunteers collect is vital evidence used to call for swift and ambitious action.”
Dr Laura Foster, head of clean seas at the Marine Conservation Society, also said that all pollution, regardless of size, is having a hugely negative impact
She continued: “Tiny microplastics are being eaten by plankton at the very foundation of ocean ecosystems, animals big and small are being tangled in plastic packaging, turtles are mistaking it for food, and chemical pollution is changing the ocean’s chemistry.
“All of this is an alarming picture of the state of our seas, but each and every volunteer who joins the Great British Beach Clean helps us research the scale of pollution in the UK. This research is vital to stop pollution at source, and we know it works. Cleaner beaches will support a healthy ocean, and a healthy planet.”
The event will run from September 16-25 and details are available at www.mcsuk.org/greatbritishbeachclean.