Benefits of Recycling Championed During Awareness Week

Comparison Study Finds Reducing Levels of Plastic Waste & Litter on UK Beaches

Levels of plastic wastes and other litter on UK beaches have reduced, according to a comparison beach cleaning and litter surveying programme by Cromwell Polythene as part of its 35th anniversary activity and to mark Recycle Week.


Levels of plastic wastes and other litter on UK beaches have reduced, according to a comparison beach cleaning and litter surveying programme by Cromwell Polythene as part of its 35th anniversary activity and to mark Recycle Week.

The comparison was follow up to similar research conducted by the Leeds based recycled plastics company during last year’s Recycle Week shows reduced levels of waste across most material streams. The only increases compared to last year’s results were for paper/cardboard, and metal which both multiplied significantly, and medical waste.

Waste items that reach the ocean are a threat to the marine environment. Levels of litter were recorded across the same predefined items as last year’s survey, across eleven types: plastic / polystyrene, rubber, cloth, paper and cardboard, wood (machined), metal, glass, pottery/ceramics, sanitary waste, medical waste and faeces.

The Cromwell Polythene team, which supplies a range of polythene products to aid recycling celebrates its 35th anniversary on 1 October. To mark the occasion 23 staff joined Great British Beach Clean organisers, the Marine Conservation Society and volunteers from the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas Centre, to collect and record litter found on their local Filey beach on the North Yorkshire coast and raise awareness of sustainability.

“It’s very encouraging that levels of waste materials have decreased across the same stretch of beach compared to results from our previous year’s analysis,” commented James Lee, managing director of Cromwell Polythene. What is also clear is that it’s not just plastic packaging washing up on the beaches and I’m pleased to see a decrease in plastic waste.”

“Brought into public focus though Blue Planet 2, people are becoming more aware of the impact of rubbish in our oceans,” he continued. “The reduction in littering may be down to more people taking part in organised litter picks due to increased awareness of marine pollution. Measures like the expansion of recycling initiatives in public spaces can also help encourage people to recycle on the go.”

Results from this year’s collection, conducted over two sections of 100 metre radius each of local beaches showed the following results compared to the 2017 programme:

  • A 6% decrease in plastic/polythene - items included drinks bottles, cups, fishing net, string and crisp packets. No plastic bags were recovered in either year but small plastic pieces were removed.
  • An 84% drop in rubber items – only two bits of balloon and a ball were found
  • A 25% decrease in cloth – clothing, shoes and towels were found
  • A 370% increase in paper/cardboard materials
  • A 58% decrease in wood materials – lolly sticks and chip forks were still found
  • The number of metal items found doubled this year including drink cans and foil wrappers, wire and fishing weights/hooks and lures found
  • Glass waste decreased by 30%  but discarded bottles were found
  • Pottery found decreased by 16%  but broken tiles were found
  • Sanitary items decreased by 25%, with wet wipes and sanitary towels found
  • Medical related waste consisted of 2 plasters, which weren’t found last year
  • And last but not least… 4 bagged dog faeces – the same figure as last year!

Wider annual figures indicate this is just the tip of the iceberg. In total, statistics from The Marine Conservation’s Great British Beach Clean 2017 removed 255,209 pieces of litter from 339 beaches, making 718 pieces of rubbish for every 100m stretch of beach cleaned.* This litter comes from many sources but it is all preventable.

Organised by WRAP, the message being shared for this year’s Recycle Week is Recycling. We do. Because it matters.’ This is an opportunity to dispel myths and demonstrate why recycling is beneficial - keeping it in use, and out of our environment.

Get involved in the annual Great British Beach Clean HERE and fine out more about Recycle Week HERE

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