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Help keep Welsh beaches beautiful at this year’s Great British Beach Clean

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is appealing for people across Wales to adopt a beach and lead a clean-up and survey during this year’s Great British Beach Clean (20th -23rd September, 2019).

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Last year’s Great British Beach Clean, which took place on the 14th to 17th September, saw volunteers remove close to 500kg of litter from Welsh beaches. In total, just short of 25,000 litter items were picked up along the 5,355 metres of coastline surveyed.

MCS says it hopes the 26th Great British Beach Clean will continue to smash records when it comes to volunteer numbers – but not litter amounts. The charity is appealing for more organisers to lead even more beach cleans around the beautiful Welsh coastline to exceed last year’s record-breaking year.


Data collected by volunteers from 25 years of MCS-led Great British Beach Cleans was instrumental in Wales becoming the first nation in the UK to introduce the 5p charge on single-use carrier bags. MCS’ Welsh data has also led to an Assembly committee report urging the Welsh Government to produce a 10-year strategy to reduce plastic pollution and introduce an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme in Wales.

Gill Bell, MCS Head of Conservation Wales, says: “Last year we had a record-breaking number of beach cleans across Wales, with 1,332 people getting involved in the Great British Beach Clean. It’s a UK-wide project aiming at getting as many beaches surveyed and cleaned over the weekend as possible. Not only will this remove lots of plastic pollution from beaches, but we hope to get a comprehensive picture of the types of litter that end up on Welsh beaches. Importantly, we want to try to understand where it comes from, so we can tackle it at source.”

Lizzie Prior, MCS Beachwatch Officer says: “This year we’re appealing for even more people to adopt a beach and become one of our army of beach clean organisers. Cleaning so many beaches across Wales last year was a fabulous achievement by our volunteer cleaners and organisers, but we know that it’s only the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of beaches around our coasts that have never been cleaned and surveyed – and it’s the collection of this data that is so important in getting even more positive actions implemented than have already been achieved in the last year or so.”

This year, for the first time, the Great British Beach Clean will be sponsored by the Ocado Foundation, the charitable arm of the online supermarket.  The Foundation will be sponsoring the event to the tune of £300,000 as part of the Environmental Pillar of its ‘Ocado Way 2020 Vision’.

Suzanne Westlake, Head of Corporate Responsibility & Corporate Affairs said on behalf of the Ocado Foundation: “We’re delighted to be teaming up with the Marine Conservation Society on the GBBC. It will be an amazing four-day event and one we are proud to be a part of.”  

Gill Bell added: “Less litter on Welsh beaches will help to protect some of our best loved marine wildlife, make it safer for children when they’re building sandcastles and show just how good the seaside can look when we clear away our escalating mountain of rubbish.”

Key findings from the Great British Beach Clean in Wales 2018: 

  • On average, for every 100 metres of Welsh coastline cleaned there were:
  • Nearly 190 plastic/polystyrene pieces
  • 40 plastic caps/lids
  • 15 cotton bud sticks
  • 15 drinks bottles and cans
  • 8 wet wipes
  • 4 plastic bags
  • 2 plastic/polystyrene cups

Becoming a Great British Beach Clean organiser couldn’t be easier – find a beach you want to clean – sign up and register it on the MCS online system – and MCS will provide you with all the help you need to get going.  www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch

“We hope to have even more people cleaning up beaches across the UK this September than we did last year, so registering your events with us as soon as you can is invaluable,” added Lizzie Prior.