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Plastic-wrapped Poo Poses Threat To Beach Cleanliness As Dog Owners Bag It But Don't Bin It

22nd March 2012

Plastic-wrapped poo poses threat to beach cleanliness as dog owners bag it but don't bin it  

Marine Conservation Society records sharp rise in poop scoop bags on UK beaches  

Piles of dog poo shrink-wrapped in plastic bags could threaten the health and safety of beach visitors according to the latest beach litter data collected by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) in 2011 and published today in its Beachwatch Big Weekend Report. 

The charity says poop, scooped in bags and left on UK beaches, rose over 11% between 2010 and 2011, with Scotland recording the biggest increase - a whopping 71% in one year. 

MCS Beachwatch Officer, Lauren Davis, says the findings reveal good and bad habits: "We're delighted that pet owners enjoy dog friendly beaches and clearly think ahead by carrying poop scoop bags. But we hope our findings will now encourage them to take the bag off the beach and bin it in one of the many receptacles provided for the job. Leaving a bag full of poo on the beach will result in preserved excrement, protected from the elements for years by a bag which could take a long time to break down. 

"We don't want children picking up bags that break open and spill their contents whether it's fresh or 'mature'. Dog poo is a source of high levels of bacteria and can lead to reduced water quality, and poses a human health risk." 

Despite an increase in poop scoop bags on our beaches, overall shore litter has dropped by 11% between 2010 and 2011.  

"The latest results from our weekend long Beachwatch event held on the 17th and 18th September last year are more encouraging than they have been for a while," says Lauren Davis. "Not only did beach litter drop overall, we also saw a substantial dip of 33% in the amount of sewage related debris (SRD) on our beaches - that's the stuff people put down their loos but shouldn't, like cotton buds, condoms, sanitary towels and tampon applicators. In 2010 there was a 40% rise in SRD compared to the previous year, but after we'd highlighted the issue and urged people to change their habits, the latest data looks like the message may be getting home." 

The MCS Beachwatch Big Weekend 2011 results were collected by almost 4,500 volunteers who cleaned 335 beaches, covering a total of 142.3 kilometres. 247,914 items of litter were collected filling over 2,177 bags. For every kilometre surveyed almost 1,741 pieces of litter were found.  

MCS says it's also concerned by a rise in the number of balloons found on UK beaches during the Beachwatch Big Weekend, increasing by 8% since 2010. "With 2012 set to be a year of celebrations from the Queen's Diamond Jubilee to the London Olympics, we really need people to understand why letting go is a bad idea. There is clear evidence that balloons harm wildlife in the marine environment and we don't want to see 2012 leaving a legacy of littering," says Lauren Davis.  

MCS says litter levels dropped in 2009 from an all time high in 2008 and rose again in 2010. The charity says it hopes the drop of 11% last year will be the start of a downward trend. 

 "Litter levels on our beaches are still are worryingly high," says Lauren Davis. "Our September 2011 Beachwatch Big Weekend saw volunteers take to the beaches in driving wind and rain. In September 2012 we would like to see more volunteers and more beaches being cleaned to give us an even clearer picture of the state of our UK beaches."  


Press contacts: 

MCS Beachwatch Officer: Lauren Davis 01989 561 597/ 07979 736661

MCS Pollution Programme Manager: Robert Keirle 01989 561 589/ 07764 192766

MCS Litter Campaigns Officer: Emma Snowden 01989 561590

MCS Media and Editorial Officer: Clare Fischer 01989 561 658/07751 905535

MCS Communications Manager: Richard Harrington 01989 561585/07793 118 384


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