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One Million Pieces of Litter and counting

David McCann   Fri 14 Jun 2019

In 2018, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful marine litter surveyors recorded 625 pieces of litter per 100 meters of beach - the highest average since the surveys began in 2012. Plastic, not surprisingly makes up over 78% of the waste on the beaches including many ‘single use’ items such as drinks bottles, food wrappers and broken pieces of plastic. There were also many short pieces of blue string and rope, which are likely to have come from the fishing industry.

The surveys are carried out 4 times a year by trained volunteers across ten ‘reference’ beaches around our coasts. The surveys are funded by the Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and all the data collected feeds into the OSPAR Commission Database helping with decision-making around marine litter in the North East Atlantic from Iceland to Portugal. The data is accessible to anyone and at every reference beach it is collected in the same way at the same time of the year.

Commenting on the 2018 Report, David Small - Head of DAERA Environment, Marine and Fisheries Group said, “I would like to thank and congratulate Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and their network of volunteers on the marvellous work they have been doing to address the problem of marine litter pollution.

Marine litter pollution is a massive problem and one which can only be addressed by everyone playing their part. It is crucial that we continue to find ways to ensure our lifestyle choices don’t impact negatively on the environment, and the resources we depend on such as water, air, food and energy.”

Every one of the reference beaches are cleaned within two weeks of the survey by a range of volunteers from families and local groups to schools and businesses.

Nearly 3000 volunteers are involved in cleaning up the reference beaches, and they have collected over 1 million pieces of litter (December 2018) and over 5000 bags of litter have been removed.

Dr. Berman from Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful stated, “Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful may be on the cover of the Marine Litter Report, but it is the volunteers and groups who not only record every piece of litter on the beach but also clean up too making out beaches better places for everyone”

There is a surge of interest in people wanted to get out and clean up their local areas. Doing good feels good and doing good together feels even better. There are many amazing groups out there and people are thinking more about using a refillable bottle and taking their own home made packed lunch to work or school to reduce their waste.

We have beautiful beaches in Northern Ireland. There are many dedicated people who help keep them that way. Why not come out and join them or sign up to adopt a spot near you? Everywhere is connected to the sea so you can make a difference by acting local.

You can read the full report at www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org.


To speak to a press spokesperson or more information please contact Dr Jade Berman, Local Environmental Quality & Business Development Manager for Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful at: jade.berman@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org T: 028 90736920