Sand, sea and a rising tide of lethal litter

THE number of plastic bags littering Scotland's beaches - potentially lethal to wildlife - increased by 41 per cent last year, against a national increase of 17 per cent.

Thousands of Marine Conservation Society (MCS) volunteers on a check-and-clean exercise last September also found 66 cigarette stubs for every kilometre of Scottish beach, a 273 per cent increase on the year. They were among the 330,000 items found on more than 170km of Britain's coastline by 3,980 volunteers - on average a plastic bag, lollipop stick, cigarette butt, cotton bud, fish box or burger carton every half-metre.

That total was a modest 4 per cent increase on the year. But in a decade, the count has almost doubled, with the four main causes showing no signs of improvement: beach visitors are responsible for 34.5 per cent; fishing debris 14.6 per cent; sanitary waste from sewage 7.2 per cent and shipping litter 2.2 per cent.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Calum Duncan, the MCS Scottish officer, said: "So many people took part in Beachwatch 2005 and a record number of beaches were cleaned. Unfortunately, our survey showed that beach litter is still rising.

"Although plastic bags account for a small proportion of beach litter, they are potentially the most lethal to wildlife that swallow them or become entangled.