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Beach litter

Coastal and marine litter includes items found on a beach or at the coast, whether washed up or left behind, as a result of human activity.

We support a number of educational based campaigns to keep our beaches clean and free from marine litter. If you are passionate about doing your bit here are some ideas on how to get involved and take action:

  • Every time you visit your favourite beach, pick up a piece of litter and dispose of it appropriately - the only cure for litter is you.
  • Join our Clean Up Scotland campaign and register your own big litter clean up or #2minutecleanup
  • Take part in the Great British Beach Clean - this is an annual campaign run by Marine Conservation Society, aimed to mobilise volunteers to take part in beach cleans, while also collecting data from all around the UK on the types of litter at our beaches.
  • Take action to reduce plastic pollution and get involved with campaigns such as The Great Nurdle Hunt, The Cotton Bud Project or Beat the Microbead
  • Remember that our action at home can effect the cleanliness of beaches. Keep the Cycle Running is a Scottish Water campaign aimed at reducing the amount of inappropriate items flushed down the toilet or put down the sink. This can include wipes, sanitary items and cotton buds.

Organisations all over the world are working to tackle marine litter.  International legislation is developed to set targets at every level, including:

  • The European Commission communication on the Circular Economy - proposes a 30% reduction by 2020 for the ten most common types of litter found on beaches.
  • The European Union Marine Strategy Framework Directive - which states that an initial assessment of the marine environment must be made and a monitoring programme should be in place by this year to achieve Good Environmental Status by 2020.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) states that 80% of litter in Scotland’s marine environment is transported there from land by rivers, drainage or wind.

Find out more information about the types and the sources of coastal and marine litter by clicking on the links below.

Clean Up Scotland
Find out more about our national campaign Clean Up Scotland, including how to organise beach cleans.

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