This weekend just gone has been part of the 25th annual Great British Beach Clean organised by the Marine Conservation Society lasting four days. It has become the largest and most longstanding beach litter survey in the UK and all the items collected are recorded according to an international agreed methodology. Amazing! As part of this there were beach cleans on the Lizard on Saturday and on Sunday at Gunwalloe, Polhdu and Kennack. Had we been down at the Cellars I would have gone and helped.
This year they were hoping, given the increased public concern following Blue Planet, for at least 10,000 volunteers. 7,391 volunteers had already pre-registered at 432 coastal spots. In 2017, nearly 7000 volunteers attended beach cleans at 339 locations all over the UK. They removed 255,209 pieces of litter. As a result of recording the litter MSC produced a report with all the findings. This report identified the top 10 items which were Plastic / polystyrene pieces; Packets (crisp, sweet, lolly, sandwich); Cigarette stubs; Caps & lids; String / cord; Wet wipes; Cotton bud sticks; Fishing line; and Cutlery / trays / straws.
Much of the waste was plastic, prompting the MCS to call on the government to urgently introduce a charge on single use plastic items, such as straws, cups and cutlery. In July 1st this year it was said in the Independent that plastic cutlery and plates could be among items soon to be banned in Britain. It said “that environment chiefs are offering a £19,000 contract to experts to assess the economic, social and environmental effects of outlawing the sale of plastic cutlery and plates, together with straws and plastic balloon sticks”. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/plastic-cutlery-plates-banned-uk-oceans-sea-pollution-marine-life-economic-defra-a8425626.html . Let us hope this does lead to action.
Recent other positive changes include Starbucks plans to phase out plastic straws by 2020. McDonald’s recently announced it will ban plastic straws at its UK restaurants. In May the European Commission announced plans to ban single-use cutlery, plates, straws, cotton buds, drink-stirrers and balloon sticks by 2021 under a new drive to reduce marine pollution. So there is momentum building which is fantastic.
Certain waste collected on the beach cleans e.g. rigid plastics and cigarette stubs are being recycled into new products! The cigarette stubs go to make outside hoarding boards and certain rigid plastic are made into pellets used by packaging companies. This is also great to hear.
On the website www.the-lizard.org/ it describes how volunteers on The Lizard (and elsewhere in Cornwall) have been taking part in an innovative recycling programme established by Keep Britain Tidy and Fathom’s Free which is helping turn marine plastics into kayaks, swim wear (?!) and more. As the website points out “While we can all do our bit at home and in business to reduce single-use plastics there’s still a mind boggling amount of plastic in our oceans, much of which eventually washes up on the coast. Volunteers across Cornwall work tirelessly to collect beach rubbish but …unfortunately, most of the waste collected on beaches is presently sent to landfill which is something we are working to change.”
Friends of Poldhu
Earlier this year, Friends of Poldhu (a National Trust beach cleaning group) collected over four cubic metres of abandoned fishing net and hard plastics from Poldhu beach. With the help of the recycling programme this waste will be recycled or ‘up-cycled’ into useful plastic products. For example: the hard plastics are being repurposed into ocean recycled kayaks. This is so good to read this especially as Poldhu is so close to the Cellars and is a lovely beach. If you want to help collect beach rubbish join the Friends of Poldhu beach cleaning group on the first Friday of every month 10am – 11am Oct – Mar and 7pm-8pm Apr – Sept. Below shows the picture from a couple of years ago when all the pink vanish bottles were being washed into Poldhu beach after a storm which they think opened up a sunken container. Awful!
Lands End, Lands’ End or Land’s End?
Finally Land’s End will officially have an apostrophe after decades of confusion, after councillors debated its punctuation change in a 90-minute discussion! The decision was made during a council meeting debating electoral boundaries. Councillor Sue James, a Liberal Democrat, said she had spoken with local archaeologist Craig Weatherhill, who said there ought to be an apostrophe before the s. This helped the decision. Glad it has been officially decided!