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Face masks and gloves found on 30% of UK beaches in clean-up, The Guardian confirms

(Photo: Marine Conservation Society)

Conservation volunteers find PPE items in nearly a third of areas during annual beach clean-ups. The Guardian have reported that discarded single-use face masks and other items of PPE were found on nearly a third of beaches during the annual autumn beach clean-up after volunteers were surveyed. The Marine Conservation Society’s annual beach clean up have said that these items of single-use plastic were found in 30% of the areas that they cleaned up. The most common items of single-use plastic that were found across UK beaches were small pieces of plastic of polystyrene, plastic takeaway cup lids, and makeup wipes. Volunteers carried out beach cleans in 385 coastal areas in September, covering 43,958 metres of beach.

For the first time, as a result of the current coronavirus pandemic, and new legislation that means it is compulsory to wear a face covering, PPE was found on the beaches surveyed. Masks and gloves were also found by volunteers in a whopping 69% of inland litter picks. The Guardian reports that “Lizzie Prior, the Great British Beach Clean coordinator at the Marine Conservation Society, said: “The amount of PPE our volunteers found on beaches and inland this year is of concern. Considering mask-wearing was only made mandatory in shops in England in late July, little more than three months before the Great British Beach Clean, the sharp increase in PPE litter should be a warning for what could be a new form of litter polluting our beaches in the future.”

Like all single-use plastic that finds its way into our seas, PPE poses a great threat to marine wildlife. Animals mistake face masks and gloves for food, and these in-digestible plastic items then get stuck in their stomach which can be fatal. They also get caught up in face masks, especially birds, who get tangled in the straps.

At BOE we don’t believe in disposable. We’ve created a range of reusable face coverings, which are Which? Recommended and that do not contain any single-use plastic. They are reusable, and can be washed 50+ times, saving over 50 plastic masks from potentially entering the ocean. Find the range here.


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