The Great British Beach Clean

3 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 is a week-long citizen science event, where hundreds of beach cleans take place up and down the UK. Litter data collected drives our conservation work and also feeds into the International Coastal Clean-up (ICC).

This year's Great British Beach Clean will take place between Friday 17th - Sunday 26th September 2021.

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 real change.

And we have seen some great results, our data has been used to make a positive impact on our ocean - including the introduction of 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.


litter items found per 100m of beach surveyed at last year's Great British Beach Clean



of beach cleans last year found face masks and PPE



drop in plastic bags found on UK beaches since 5p charge introduced

Discover why Zoe Lyons is asking you to get #BeachCleanReady and make this our biggest year yet

Read all about it!

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.”

Children enjoying the Great British Beach Clean on Rottingdean beach, Great British Beach Clean 2020.

You can email us at [email protected] or give us a call on 01989 567807. We're available from 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday.

It's easy to take part in this year's Great British Beach Clean.

Why not start by viewing the events that have already been organised to take place here.

Or you can organise your own beach clean, it's a simple process and we'll provide you with lots of guides and resources to help.

Let's get #BeachCleanReady - sign up for one of our Great British Beach Clean events!

Sign me up!

Source to Sea Litter Quest

street litter

Ever wondered where the rubbish in our streets ends up? Help us stop it ending up on our beaches, and polluting our seas

Credit: Jon Tyson

Take part in Source to Sea Litter Quest as part of the Great British Beach Clean this September, there’s something for everyone, everywhere. No matter where you live across the UK, you can help keep our seas clean.

for those of you who don't live near a beach, or who may have noticed a litter problem area in a park or street near you, we need your help too!

Last year, 70% of litter picks that took place on streets and in parks found PPE litter, 99% found drinks containers.

Taking part this September is simple, all you need to do is download the survey form, grab some gloves and a litter picker, if you have one, and head outside!

Help clean up our streets to stop litter rubbishing our beaches and seas

Together we can make a difference

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
GBBC_PPE_Graphics (2).jpg

During last year's Great British Beach Clean PPE was found on many beaches

Find out about other ways to get involved in our work

What you can do

Learn more about our beach cleans