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341 pieces of plastic and a smoke grenade

Over the weekend of the 21st September, the Plasticseize team were busy carrying out 2 beach cleans to mark both World Clean Up Day, and also the Great British Beach Clean.

Beach clean from West Wittering - large plastic measuring calliper amongst the items found

Peter did the first clean at West Wittering whilst visiting for a day out. One of the more unusual finds being a large plastic measuring calliper - most likely to have been left by visiting schools.

On the 21st September, Sara the charity operations manager joined an organised beach clean that took place at Stokes Bay in Gosport. Part of the Great British Beach Clean, this was organised and led by Zoe - a volunteer with the Marine Conservation Society.

All of the organised beach cleans taking place up and down the country between the 20th - 23rd September were done in the same way - data was taken from a 100m transect running from the waters edge to the top of the beach in which any collected debris was logged using the Marine Conservation Society data sheet.

Blank beach clean data sheet showing all the categories of debris being logged

About 50 people took part in the event which was a great turn out. The strong winds proved to be a challenge though with several people having everything they had gathered be tipped back out of their bags by particularly fierce gusts - however this was quickly solved by the addition of large stones to the collecting bags.

At the end of the collection time, the Plasticseize items were logged out of the wind in the van. One of the more unusual finds from the team during the day was this smoke grenade as well as several bullet casings. Before you wonder what kind of place Stokes Bay might be, it is next to Browndown Army Training Camp and some of the data transect ran on to the camp, hence the more unusual items found. (Grenade image courtesy of Zoe).

After everyone had left, Zoe then had the task of adding up all the information from the data sheets to give the overall count. Stokes Bay appears to be pretty clean at first glance, however in 1.5 hours, 1297 pieces of rubbish were found, in which there were amongst other things:

  • 10 pens

  • 73 cigarette butts

  • 98 bits of fishing line

  • 131 food packets

  • 68 bottle caps

  • 22 bottles

  • 17 wet wipes

  • 341 plastic fragments!

It is this data that the Marine Conservation Society will use to evaluate any changes in the types of debris being found on our beaches - for example after the plastic bag tax came in, there was a marked reduction in the amount of plastic bags found. The information will be provided in a report available to the public later this year - we'll keep you updated. This information is also extremely useful to Plasticseize as it gives us a clearer picture of the typical size of plastic that is making its way onto beaches. As a result it will help inform what size netting will be most effective for us to deploy from our ship to gather floating plastic waste.

If you are visiting a beach wherever you are in the world, take a couple of minutes to do a beach clean - every bit helps and if you find anything unusual, we'd love to hear about it.

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