THE annual Great British Beach Clean is back this week, running from September 18-25.

The Marine Conservation Society is encouraging as many people as possible to get involved and organise small, private beach cleans along the Welsh coast.

In line with government guidance, the Marine Conservation Society is asking for volunteers to adopt a 100m stretch of beach and conduct a beach clean and litter survey in small groups, or solo.

The Great British Beach Clean will be the charity’s first big opportunity to get a sense of the litter problem since lockdown restrictions have eased. With face masks and single-use gloves becoming more commonly spotted littering public spaces, the Marine Conservation Society will be asking volunteers to record what PPE they find, providing the first insight into the extent of the PPE pollution problem.

Each year volunteers record all the litter they find, from plastic and glass bottles to wet wipes and coffee cups. The valuable data collected helps the charity campaign for policy changes which stop pollution at source. For example, data collected by volunteers helped push for the 5p plastic bag charge, which led to a notable drop in plastic bags littering the coastline.

Clare Reed, Marine Policy Officer for Wales at the Marine Conservation Society: “It’s vital that as many people as possible adopt a stretch of beach and organise their own beach clean and litter survey this year.

“The Great British Beach Clean offers a great opportunity to see how our changing habits since lockdown are affecting the pollution on Welsh beaches.

“We’re expecting more face masks and plastic gloves than before but are also on the lookout for whether single-use takeaway packaging like coffee cups and food boxes is on the rise.”

Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales: “I’ll be taking part in the Great British Beach Clean this year, heading to [beach] with a small group to help clear and survey litter.

“Not only is the Great British Beach Clean a fantastic opportunity to get out onto the coast and enjoy the last of summer, but it’s also an opportunity for us all to play a part in protecting our ocean and marine life by removing pollution which puts marine life in harm’s way.

“I encourage as many people as possible to get involved in this year’s weeklong event.”

At last year’s Great British Beach Clean an average of 475 items were collected per 100m in Wales, with a total of 346kg of litter removed across the four days.