Autumn Beach Clean sees Record-Breaking Figures as Plastic Pollution Cleared from UK Landscape

Volunteers across the UK are being celebrated for their hard work after 33 tonnes of plastic pollution was cleared from beaches, rivers and inland areas in just one week.

Leading marine conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) shared the astounding figures following this year’s annual Autumn Beach Clean: Summit to Sea, which sees thousands of volunteers roll up their sleeves and clean up their local area each October.

For this year’s event, held from 19th – 27th, more than 27,300 people joined forces to host 602 cleans across the UK – 33% over our target of 400 and a 19% increase from 2018.

That’s equates to more than 92,000 hours of volunteer power over the whole week!

SAS’s Community Manager Jack Middleton said: “As always, we are blown away by the positive can-do spirit of communities across the UK. Despite some of the worst weather we have had for a beach clean project for years, 27,305 amazing volunteers still turned out to make a stand against the degradation of our environment. From babies through to elderly, everyone did their bit to protect our beaches, rivers, mountains, and streets.”

One of the main aims of this year’s Autumn Beach Clean was data collection. This follows on from the research carried out at the Big Spring Beach Clean earlier this year which saw a huge number of volunteers collecting information in a nationwide Brand Audit. Highlighting the worst offending companies, this was later submitted as vital evidence into a number of governmental consultations.

Among them, were the Extended Producer Responsibilities and the Deposit Return Scheme, which will soon see consumers pay a small fee when buying drinks in plastic bottles or cans (that is reimbursed when they return the container).

Continuing this vital work, just under 100 Ocean Activists Plastic Audits from the Autumn Beach Clean have been submitted collecting important evidence on the materials turning up in our environment. This number is expected to increase further – ensuring even more vital data to support future consultations and research.

Jack continued “to see so many people turning Citizen Scientists and gathering vital evidence on the main pollutants we are finding also shows that the desire for change and appetite to become change-makers is there. Our volunteers are not passive bystanders to the current enviro-crisis, they are out there at the forefront, getting stuck in and doing their bit and we applaud them.”

Having covered almost every corner of the UK this Autumn (reaching 749 miles in a straight line between the northernmost and southernmost cleans), with 471 beach cleans, 89 river cleans, 33 inland cleans and 9 mountain cleans under their belts, we are proud to be a leading member of the plastic free revolution across the UK.

However, cleaning up the local environment doesn’t have to be saved for just one or two weeks of the year – to find out more about how to host your own beach clean or make a difference in your local community, click here.

As always, we would like to thank our sponsors; The Crown EstatePostcode Green TrustTrewithen DairyRen SkincareCanoe FoundationParley for the OceansHydroflaskFinisterre and Community & Charity Partners; Surfing EnglandBritish CanoeingThe British Mountaineering CouncilSouth West Coast PathThe Wave ProjectThe Outdoor Swimming Society.