Call for deposit scheme to cut beach litter across East Anglia

The property is less than 350ft from Southwold beach.

The property is less than 350ft from Southwold beach. - Credit: Nick Butcher

It is an issue that impacts upon our wildlife, tourism and sustainability of our beaches.

More than 8,000 plastic bottles were found on beaches across the UK in just one weekend. Picture: Ma

More than 8,000 plastic bottles were found on beaches across the UK in just one weekend. Picture: Marine Conservation Society. - Credit: Archant

And in a new report published by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), the amount of litter in our region is at its highest since records began.

Last September, volunteers across Norfolk and Suffolk took part in the Great British Beach Clean.

But in figures published yesterday, more than 8,000 plastic bottles were found on beaches across the UK – an average of 160 bottles per mile or 99 bottles per kilometre cleaned.

Figures also showed that 31pc of the litter came from the public – with items including plastic bags, drinks, bottles, cigarette stubs and balloons contributing to the results.

Notably, over 10pc of the litter also came from fishing – including line, net, crab pots fish boxes and hooks.

But in a show of fighting spirit, the report also highlighted that more volunteers took part in the clean-up here, than anywhere else in the country.

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A total of 114 volunteers in Norfolk helped to remove coastline rubbish on seven beaches – where more than 50 bin bags were filled.

The highest number of bags collected was at Titchwell Marsh, where 20 volunteers collected 12 bin bags.

Some of the other beaches to take part in the initiative included Cley, Sheringham and Trimingham.

Over in Suffolk, 337 volunteers helped to clean 17 beaches.

A total of 34 bags of litter were collected by the 72 volunteers in Southwold.

15 volunteers and three children also met at the North beach in Lowestoft– collecting a total of 13kg of rubbish.

Items found included wet-wipes, sweet wrappers, drinks bottles, small bits of plastic and even a traffic cone.

The conservation group is now calling for deposit return schemes on all single-use plastic and glass drinks bottles and drinks cans, which gives money back to people who return their empty containers, to boost recycling and cut the amount of litter.

Lauren Eyles, MCS beachwatch manager, said: 'The bottles we find on beaches are either dropped directly on to the beach, blown from land or sea, or end up there via rivers.

'The more we use as a nation, the more we'll see ending up on our shores.'

The MCS said putting a charge on the bottles, that gets refunded when they are returned would change behaviour, and called for the government to explore the potential of such a scheme.

What do you think about the cleanliness of our beaches? Email: joe.randlesome@archant.co.uk

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