Beach cleans benefitting from ban on plastic buds

A BAN on the manufacture and sale of plastic cotton bud sticks in Scotland – in October two years ago – appears to be reaping dividends, following the latest figures from a beach clean-up ‘week’ held in September.

Say organisers of the clean-up, the Marine Conservation Society, some 15,575 metres of beach in Scotland were cleared and surveyed by 1,531 volunteers, netting some 592 bags of litter, weighing a total of 2,002kg.

This contrasts with UK-wide figures of over 55,000 metres of beach, 6,176 volunteers and 5,064.8kg of litter.

In Scotland, the top five most common litter items found were: Plastic and polystyrene pieces (100.8 per 100 metres), wet wipes (25), crisp and sweet packets, lolly sticks etc (19.4), string/cord (18.5) and glass items (13.1).

An average 346 items were found per 100 metres this year, with the average dropping over the previous five years (2016: 459, 2017: 491, 2018: 559, 2019: 491, and 2020: 298).

Says a MCS media release (here): “Marine Conservation Society data supported Scotland’s banning of the manufacture and sale of plastic cotton bud sticks in October 2019. An average of ten plastic cotton bud sticks were recorded by volunteers in Scotland this year, dropping 50 per cent from last year, where an average of 20 were recorded on Scottish beaches.

“The carrier bag charge, which was increased to 10p in April 2021 in Scotland, is another policy which has likely had a positive impact on Scottish beach litter levels. An average of three single-use plastic shopping bags were recorded for every 100 metres of Scottish beach cleaned this year, steadily dropping from an all-time high of 17 recorded on Scotland’s coast in 2013.”

The ‘week’ was held between September 17 and 26.

Pictured: near North Berwick, East Lothian, Picture credit: Place Design Scotland

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