Brighton: A Post-Lockdown Case Study

The Ticking Waste Time Bomb on Brighton & Hove Beach as Lockdown Eases.

Author: Stu Davies, Regional Rep for Hove

The beaches in Brighton & Hove, like any popular city or resort beaches, do suffer greatly from waste left on the beach by visitors & party goers. Our beach cleans often pull off 100’s of kg of waste at each clean, and that figure is much, much more during busy periods.

Through our recording at our beach cleans we estimated that 80% of all of that waste is left by people visiting the beach and leaving it there. During the lockdown our estimate was qualified: the beaches were clear, it is evident that much of our beach waste comes from people leaving there. During lockdown in the UK, our beach environment benefited from less people leaving less plastic pollution.

As Lockdown Eases

The easing of lockdown in Brighton and Hove has seen in residents and, more recently, visitors venturing outside and beginning to use the beaches as social hubs. Understandably, we all want to get outside and enjoy nature at its best, however this comes at a cost to our marine environment.

As our local pubs and restaurants won’t be re-opening for some time, they are now beginning to think of other ways to gather some income during these turbulent times. This includes services like takeaway food and/or drink. Whilst this is great to get our local hospitality sector moving again, and many people will enjoy being able to socialise in their favourite coastal spots once again, this has to be done responsibly and sustainably. Sadly, we are not seeing this at the moment.

One marine mammal or sea bird dies every 30 seconds due to plastic pollution. A lot of our take-away services, small shops and supermarkets that service beach goers are and will be using single-use plastic, which ends up on our beaches. The photos below show that after just one weekend of lockdown easing we are already seeing a build-up of plastic pollution on our city beach. Sadly, this is a sight echoed across the country.

Much of that waste is toxic and harmful to our coastlines and marine environment. We are predicting a significant influx in visitors from outside of Brighton and Hove to our beaches. This puts pressure, and a very real risk to life, on our local council waste services (already running under capacity due to COVID) as they have to divert to deal with the increase in waste.

We want to get ahead of this. We need action now.

Organising regular beach cleans are something we would love to do, but unfortunately can’t to ensure the safety of the public and our volunteers. This is why we need to work together to help clean up our coastlines. Whether you’re a resident, a tourist, the Council, local trader or a Marine Conservation organisation, it is time to implement change in society and ensure that our beaches are not drowning in plastic as the world begins to get back to ‘normal’.

We have a golden opportunity to change behaviours and we need our beaches, rivers, streets and parks clean – permanently.

How you can help us:

  • Do a #MiniBeachClean or #IsolationClean – don’t forget to take before and after pictures and share them with us.
  • Contact your local council or landowner to find out what they plan to do (contact us for a draft email).
  • Document the plastic pollution crisis. We are looking for case studies from across the UK documenting the rise in plastic pollution. If you have one, email Jack today ([email protected]).
  • Return To Offender – while the sustained campaign period has ended, we are continuing to call on big industry to change the way they work.