Beach clean volunteers at Great British Beach Clean on Eastney Beach Portsmouth GBBC Billy Barraclough

The Great British Beach Clean

1 minute read

Every September thousands of people take to the beach all over the UK to take part in the Great British Beach Clean.

Beachwatch Team

About the Great British Beach Clean

MCS Staff during Great British Beach Clean Tara Proud

Credit: Tara Proud

The Great British Beach Clean doesn’t just keep our coastline clean, it has also been leading the way in tackling ocean pollution for decades.

On every clean we ask people to run a litter survey: recording all the items of rubbish they find in a 100m stretch. We use this data to campaign for change.

And we have seen some great results - the plastic bag charge, banning microplastics in personal care products, better wet wipe labelling, and supporting a tax on single-use plastic items.

But there is still so much to do to stop the litter plaguing our beaches. 

Get involved

Children litter picking at the Great British Beach Clean on Rottingdean beach 2020 Billy Barraclough

Credit: Billy Barraclough

To get involved this year find a beach clean near you, or organise your own.

We offer step by step guides and provide all the resources you need to run a successful event. Our team is always on hand to help out with any questions you have.

“If you’re having fun and just see tons of litter, it's kind of off putting.”

Marko 10 (right), Rottingdean beach, Great British Beach Clean 2020.

What we found in 2020

Last year our Great British Beach Clean, looked a little different due to Covid.

Our organisers downsized their beach cleans to small groups and enlisted friends, families and ‘bubbles’ to help clear beaches of litter and take part in the citizen science project.

Despite the unusual circumstances, an amazing 2,124 volunteers took part across 459 events. Volunteers found an average of 425 items of litter per 100m of UK shoreline.

The results showed a concerning, but perhaps predictable, presence of PPE litter. Face masks and gloves were found on almost 30% of beaches cleaned by our volunteers.

As well as the sharp jump in face masks and gloves, drinks containers continue to pollute UK beaches. An average of 30 drinks containers were found per 100m of beach surveyed this year once again showing the need for a Deposit Return Scheme.

“Considering mask wearing was only made mandatory in shops in England in late July, little more than three months before the Great British Beach Clean, the sharp increase in PPE litter should be a word of warning for what could be a new form of litter polluting our beaches in the future.”

Lizzie, Great British Beach Clean Coordinator

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