Our Greatest Autumn Beach Clean

Thousands of UK Beach Lovers Unite to Tackle Plastic Pollution

This Autumn saw over 8000 people join us at 285 beach cleans across the UK for our biggest Autumn Beach Clean ever. From local schools, community groups and businesses to young families, big wave surfers and beach-combing veterans, volunteers of all ages and backgrounds came together to protect their beaches by removing a staggering 18 tonnes of plastic pollution (the equivalent of over 4,500 full bin bags) and recycling 15,000 single use plastic bottles found on our coastlines.

Now in its 6th year the Autumn Beach Clean 2016 almost doubled in size and success in comparison to 2015 and is now an integral part of SAS’s community beach clean programme thanks to the support of lead sponsors The Crown Estate and Greggs. This all means that SAS’s ‘volunteer army’ is now the biggest, loudest and most effective beach protection community in the UK.

The following shocking litter stats and tales of herculean volunteer effort are evidence of the importance of community activism and shows that by coming together to protect what we love ordinary people can make an extraordinary difference to the health of our marine environments (whilst having fun too!).

The Autumn Beach Clean In Numbers;

  • 285 – SAS Autumn Beach Cleans
  • 8,123 – SAS beach clean volunteers
  • 18 Tonnes – the total weight of marine litter removed from the UK’s coastline
  • 4,500 – bin bags removed by SAS beach clean volunteers
  • 38,112 hours – donated by SAS beach clean volunteers
  • £350,202 – the value of the volunteers’ effort to UK coastal economies (1)
  • 15,000 – the number of plastic bottles recycled by Lead Volunteers
  • 250 #MessageInABottle letters sent to MPs
  • 32 schools and universities that lead Autumn Beach Cleans
  • 27 – average number of SAS beach clean volunteers per beach clean
  • 4 Rock Stars! – the Sunset Sons joined in at Bournemouth ahead of a gig that evening
  • 4 months – youngest Beach Clean Volunteer
  • 93 Years – oldest Beach Clean Volunteer
  • Most Common Volunteer Anecdote – “That was great! I’m now thinking of running monthly cleans here, is that alright?”
  • Every region of the UK represented
  • Furthest North – Hushinish, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides
  • Furthest South – Platte Saline, Alderney, Channel Islands
  • Furthest East – Great Yarmouth, East Anglia
  • Furthest West – Culmore, Northern Ireland

The exponential increase in SAS beach clean volunteer numbers comes at a vital time. With over 8 million tonnes of plastic pollution entering our oceans each year (2) and over 4400 pieces of plastic pollution littering each mile of the UK’s coastline (3) our oceans, waves, beaches and wildlife are literally choking on plastic waste. SAS and our army of volunteers believe that the solution to plastic pollution lies beyond the beach clean and that we must trap plastics within the economy so that this valuable resource never escapes onto our streets and into our seas.

The plastic pollution problem can be overwhelming, which is why we encourage people to tackle plastic pollution one step at a time. So as well as removing 18 tonnes of potentially lethal litter (3) from our beaches we asked Autumn Beach Clean volunteers to help beyond the beach clean by joining their #MessageInABottle campaign, which calls on Government to introduce a Deposit Return System on plastic bottles and other single use drinks containers. Autumn Beach Cleaners removed and recycled over 15,000 plastic bottles from their beaches and joined our #MessageInABottle call** for the introduction of a small 10 – 20p deposit. This ‘small change’ could create an 80 – 90% reduction (4) in the number of bottles we find on our beaches in the future!

If you’ve been inspired to take action against plastic pollution at your favourite beaches get in touch with the SAS Beach Clean Team at [email protected] or call 01872 553001. You can also lead your own #MiniBeachClean anytime.


  • Volunteering hours and value to the economy calculated using the Office for National Statistics data https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/earningsandworkinghours
  • United Nations Environment Program http://www.unep.org/regionalseas/marinelitter/about/distribution/
  • https://www.mcsuk.org/downloads/gbbc/2016/487-2016%20Beachwatch%20GBBC%20Summary%2016pp%20A5%20WEB%20Spreads.pdf
  • Over 100,000 turtles and marine mammals and over 1 million seabirds die annually from the ingestion of and entanglement in marine plastics http://www.unep.org/regionalseas/marinelitter/publications/docs/plastic_ocean_report.pdf
  • Have We Got the Bottle? Implementing a Deposit Refund Scheme in the UK, Campaign to Protect Rural England, 2010