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The Great British Beach Clean is Back

Mon 7 Sep 20

The Marine Conservation Society’s annual Great British Beach Clean will be a full week this year, from 18 - 25 September, with beach cleaning events around the coast of Scotland.

The charity needs more people to organise a beach clean than ever before and we’re urging the public to get involved in this year’s event to gather vital information on the most prolific forms of litter polluting the Scottish coastline.

However, this year looks a little different. The Marine Conservation Society is asking individuals to adopt a 100 metre stretch of beach and organise their own beach cleans with a small group, in line with Scottish Government guidance.

The charity is hoping more organisers will take ownership of their local beaches to support the project and collect all important data.

During last year’s Great British Beach Clean weekend, citizen scientists across Scotland collected nearly 500 litter items per 100 metres of beach, with 2,900 volunteers taking part.

It’s never been more vital for people to get involved in the Great British Beach Clean. Whilst it’s fantastic to see more people visiting and enjoying the Scottish coastline, this can’t be to the detriment of our incredible marine life and beautiful beaches.

This year we’ll also be recording the amount of face masks and gloves we find polluting the beaches, giving us a true sense of how prolific PPE litter has become since lockdown has eased.

Catherine Gemmell, Scotland Conservation Officer for the Marine Conservation Society

The charity’s data on litter from 26 years of Great British Beach Clean events has supported and informed the introduction of policies and bans, including the development of Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), the ban on plastic stemmed cotton buds, the introduction of the 5p single-use carrier bag charge, Scotland’s Marine Litter Strategy and much more.

This year marks Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters which has highlighted the amazing biodiversity and beauty of the country’s blue spaces, an appreciation which was heightened by lockdown and a mutual desire for open spaces and sea air.

Taking part in this year’s beach clean events is an opportunity to get outdoors and give something back, ensuring that Scotland’s coasts and waters are litter free and beautiful for generations to come. 

With 2020 marking Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, it’s been great to see people travelling close to home – with many enjoying our incredible coastlines or spotting marine wildlife.

This year’s Great British Beach Clean is an opportunity for everyone to give something back and contribute to keeping our beaches beautiful. To protect our precious coasts and waters for future generations, it’s important we all take responsibility for treating our natural environment with respect.

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive, VisitScotland


As lockdown restrictions eased over the summer months, Scottish beaches received an influx of visitors from near and far. Whilst a welcome boost for domestic tourism, Scotland’s stunning beaches have suffered from an increase in litter.

The easing of lockdown restrictions has prompted more people to enjoy local outdoor spaces and beaches. Unfortunately, in some cases, this has resulted in unprecedented levels of littering on some of our beautiful beaches.

The Great British Beach Clean will help us better understand what impact these recent changes have had on our shores, and I am very grateful to the Marine Conservation Society and all of those volunteers who have already committed to taking part. The beach litter data collected by clean-ups like this is incredibly important as it is used by the Scottish Government and internationally to help develop long-term solutions to marine litter.

Mairi Gougeon, Natural Environment Minister

Get involved

Here are 5 reasons why organising a Great British Beach Clean in 2020 is so important:

  1. To make a real difference
  2. To stretch those quarantined legs
  3. To plug the gaps
  4. To respond to a new problem
  5. To give a voice to the people that care

To sign up as an organiser, please visit the Marine Conservation Society’s website.

By adopting a 100 metre stretch of Scottish coastline and organising a beach clean and litter survey, everyone can make a huge difference to the health of Scottish seas and keep marine life safe. Register to organise your own beach clean with friends and family.

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