Waitrose has joined forces with the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) to fight plastic beach pollution.
The supermarket chain and the charity aim to get more people than ever before involved in a series of events to clean and record litter from England’s beaches and rivers.
The retailer is donating £500,000 from its carrier bag funds to MCS, who will organise around 1,000 beach and river clean-ups during 2017/18.
MCS beachwatch manager Lauren Eyles,said: “Beach litter has steadily risen over the two decades that MCS volunteers have been recording it on UK beaches.
“Last year, on average in the UK, 694 items of litter were collected for every 100 metres cleaned. Plastic bottles, carrier bags, nappies, balloons and tiny plastic pieces can be found on almost every beach in the UK – either washed up, blown there or dropped.
“Our beaches are suffering, and most of the litter found can be traced back to us – the general public. But we can all do something positive to help – find your nearest event and get stuck in!”
The Great British Beach Clean – the MCS flagship Beachwatch event – takes place every third weekend of September. The Waitrose Beach and River Clean-up series will kick off during MCS’s Great British Beach Clean event from September 15 to September 18. You can register to take part at www.mcsuk.org/waitrose.
For the first time, many of the plastics removed from the beaches and rivers will be sorted and recycled, giving them a second life as new products.
During the MCS 2016 Great British Beach Clean, 268,384 individual items of litter were collected at 364 events by just under 6,000 volunteers.
The charity says it has partnered with Waitrose because of the retailer’s commitment to the environment. Earlier this month, Waitrose announced that all of its own-label packaging, across all food categories, would be widely recyclable, reusable or home compostable by 2025.
Tor Harris, head of responsible sourcing and sustainability at Waitrose, said: “The marine environment is important to all of us. So the MCS’ beach and river cleans – with their focus on reducing pollution from materials such as plastics – were an obvious choice when we were thinking of where to donate some of our plastic carrier bag funds. It’s our first step in donating £1 million to projects to tackle plastic pollution.”
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is the UK charity dedicated to protecting our seas, shores and wildlife. It campaigns for clean seas and beaches, sustainable fisheries, and protection of marine life.
Waitrose has 354 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 64 convenience branches, and 27 shops at Welcome Break locations.
Plastic carrier bag levy funds raised in England can only be spent in England, so only English beach and river cleans are being sponsored by Waitrose.
The plastic carrier bag levy funds raised in the rest of the UK is pledged to other charitable causes in Scotland and Wales.