Browns Bay beach clean sees 36kg of litter collected
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The Marine Conservation Society’s annual Great British Beach Clean and Northern Irish Beach Clean ran in September 2023, marking the 30th year that thousands of volunteers took part in over 400 beach cleans and litter surveys across the UK.
Marine Conservation Society beach clean organiser Elena Aceves-Cully has been organising the annual clear up at Browns Bay since 2006.
A total of 26 volunteers took part in year’s event on September 30, all of which were parents and pupils from Islandmagee Primary School.
The team collected 36kg of litter (136 items) from the beach, with the top litter items (51 percent) again being plastic items (plastic bottles and caps, wrappers and small bits of plastic), glass (drink bottles and small pieces) and metal (15 percent) caps, and bits of burned wood from left over barbeques (15 percent).
Volunteers were disappointed to find on the sand a disposable vape - which has a battery that is harmful for the environment – along with three dog faeces and three dead seabirds.
Other unfortunate finds were 12 cigarette stubs, showing that the biggest source of pollution on the beach is still the public (52 percent).
With bird flu still affecting our coastlines, Elena reported the dead birds to the local council for them to be collected and analysed.
Over a 100-metre stretch of beach, volunteers removed, collected and recorded each piece of litter for the Marine Conservation Society.
This data was submitted to the charity who use the information to campaign for positive change to protect the ocean.
Elena expressed her gratitude to all those who have supported the event: “I would like to thank the Marine Conservation Society and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Recycling department, for providing us with cleaning equipment and materials, organising the picking up the rubbish after the event and supporting the picking effort on the day.
"I would also like to thank Islandmagee Primary School for the great support and enthusiasm of the parents, and the kids – some less than a year old! – who turned up. I was very grateful also to the Stable Stop’s coffee bar at Browns Bay for a great coffee and traybakes, which was very welcome after the hard work and a well deserved swim.”
More information on the Marine Conservation Society beach cleans can be found on the organisation's website.
Data collected by volunteers has already helped implement government policies that protect the environment from pollution, including plastic bag charges, better wet wipe labelling, and supporting a tax on single-use plastic items.
Clare Trotman, Beachwatch Officer at the Marine Conservation Society, said: “We wouldn’t be able to do the work we do at the Marine Conservation Society without the support of our volunteers heading out to the coast to remove harmful litter from beaches and collect vital information on what’s polluting our seas. Thank you to all our beach clean organisers and volunteers who showed up to this year’s Great British Beach Clean.”