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Flushing moist wipes causes huge beach litter problem

Beach litter spotted on Brighton's seafront

The number of wet tissues and moist towelettes washing up on the South's beaches has doubled in just one year according to the Marine Conservation Society (MCS). The organisation is blaming the consumer demand for convenience cleansing for the problem. It says more and more people are using the wet tissues to remove make-up, replace traditional toilet paper or apply fake tan.

The figures come in the charity's latest annual Great British Beach Clean report. The MCS said that people are flushing the moist cloths down the toilet, but that our sewerage system can not cope with them - and the items should be thrown in the bin instead.

The report also reveals that the total amount of litter left on our beaches has gone up by 6.4% as a whole.

"Our sewerage systems weren't built to cope with wet wipes. When flushed they don't disintegrate like toilet paper, and they typically contain plastic so once they reach the sea, they last for a very long time.

They can cause blockages in our sewers, and then, everything else that has been flushed down the loo can either back up into people's homes, or overflow into rivers and seas.

Overflows also happen during excessive rainfall, or if the plumbing hasn't been connected up properly meaning the wrong pipes are heading straight to the sea. That's when we find Sewage Related Debris, including wet wipes, on the beach."

– Charlotte Coombes, MCS Beachwatch Officer

Beach litter up: Includes Bulletproof vest, tv & dentures

Beach litter is on the increase according to the Marine Conservation Society

Volunteers involved in cleaning up Britain's beaches collected more than two hundred thousand items in just one weekend.

The figures have come in a report from the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) which organised the 'Beachwatch Big Weekend 2013' last September. A total of 224,405 items were collected.

Litter found on one of the region's beaches

It was the twentieth annual Beachwatch event organised by the organisation. The MCS said that beach litter was increasing and that behaviour needed to change. Lauren Eyles from the MCS said:

"It's coming in from the sea, being blown from the land or simply being dumped and dropped. After 20 years of campaigning it's disheartening that in 2013 we are seeing worse litter levels than ever.

"As well as half a TV, a French bulletproof vest and a pack of bacon, there was a brass candlestick, some plastic bird feet, a birdcage, a bath plug, half a canoe and a set of dentures,"

"Plastic is a real issue for our oceans and beaches. This year we also picked up lots of lids and caps. However, despite it being a really warm summer, we saw less crisp, sweets and lolly wrappers and fewer plastic bottles."