Great British Beach Clean 2014 report

A whole lot of rubbish was picked up and cleared from the beaches around the UK during the Great British Beach Clean (GBBC) 2014. Literally (or should that be litter-ally?) thousands of volunteers cleaned and surveyed over 300 UK beaches. In fact, 5349 volunteers took part in 2014, and since 1994 over 5 million bits of litter have been collected under the Beachwatch project from Marine Conservation Society who lead the GBBC.

This article is a summary of the 2014 report, available in full here.

“In 2014, 2457 pieces of litter were collected per kilometer.” On average, that’s more than two pieces of litter found in every metre surveyed around the British coastline.

Plastic was quite dominant, accounting for a huge amount of the rubbish, found as plastic pieces, bottles, bags, wrappers, caps and lids. Glass was also a major type of litter found.

Does any of this surprise you?

“In 2014 the number of wet wipes found on UK beaches increased by more than 50 % compared to 2013 – 35 of them in every kilometre cleaned!”

Much of what we find littering the beach starts off in our bathrooms. In fact things that should go in the bin but instead get flushed down the toilet rose by more than 20 % in 2014! That’s things like sanitary towels, panty liners and the like – not want you want to see at the beach on a day out! Some basic habit changes could reduce the problem on our beaches and in our homes.

Water companies estimate that about 70 % of blockages are avoidable, and disposing of baby and face wipes in the bin and not the loo could make a real difference in keeping the drains clear.

Around the UK, the amount of litter found on beaches has gone up by over 20 %. Good news is that in some areas such as Northern Ireland less litter is being found, and overall the number of cotton bud sticks and cigarette packets has reduced in the last 10 years. Lobbying of manufacturers may have been partly responsible for the reduction in discarded cotton bud sticks.

“Not only is this [beach clean] activity important to protect marine life, it is also vital for tourism.”

The report praised the enthusiasm of volunteers – who knew that picking up litter could be so much fun?! Taking part in this local action is of course part of the wider picture too. Litter knows no boundaries across our oceans, and there are volunteers all over the world helping to clean up beaches just like those here around the British coastline – see Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup.

If you’ve been inspired by this story to get outside and clean the beach, think about what you flush down the toilet or to recycle your waste, we’d love to hear your story:


Thank you.


1) Clean the beach! 2) Tell your friends about the 3 Ps. 3) Have a look to see what other countries around the world are doing to tackle litter on our beaches and in our oceans.

Related pages:

What can I do?

Why clean the beach?

Recycle Route in Scotland

Take 3 For The Sea Song (Video, 22 seconds).


Other related internet links:

Marine Conservation Society Great British Beach Clean 2014 Report.

Marine Conservation Society Beachwatch Results 2014.

Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup.


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