New study finds that plastics make up the majority of litter on beaches

4th Dec 2017

New research from the University of Exeter suggests that plastic waste dominates litter found on beaches, with almost 90% of litter found during the study made of different forms of plastic.

The findings, conducted over six years on nine beaches in Cornwall, emphasise the scope and scale of the problem, with over 200,000 pieces of plastic collected from this small area during the study. More worringly, these figures do not include small pieces of plastic, generated either from breakdown of larger items or from direct sources like microbeads and nurdles.

There are also signs that, despite the hard work of tens of thousands of volunteers each year, beach cleans were at best a stop gap in fixing the issue, with many of the items found showing signs of having originated in the sea. If this is the case, beach cleans will fail to address the source of the debris.

The fact that some of the beaches studied showed signs that the levels of plastic rubbish were increasing reinforces the need for wider action. ORCA have profiled plastics as one of the variety of threats facing cetaceans in their upcoming The State of European Cetaceans 2017, which will be released on 5th December.