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Charity calls for single-use plastic tax as beach litter rises

A charity is calling for a tax on single-use plastic after a fifth of rubbish found on beaches in the UK was made up of 'on-the-go' food and drinks items like cups, foil wrappers and bottles.

A fifth of rubbish found on beaches in the UK was made up of 'on-the-go' food and drinks items like cups, foil wrappers and bottles. Credit: PA

On average, 138 pieces of food and drink waste were found for every 100 metres of beach, with items picked up in the Marine Conservation Society's Great British Beach Clean ranging from plastic cutlery and straws to sandwich packaging and lolly sticks.

138
138 pieces of food and drink litter were found for every 100 metres of beach

On-the-go items made up 20% of all litter found in this year's annual survey and clean-up, and 63% of the beach rubbish that comes from the public, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) said.

We can all do little changes at home, reduce the amount of plastic that we buy, demand that your supermarket doesn't wrap all it's vegetables in plastic, every time you buy a cup of coffee use a re-usable cup, refuse the straw, refuse the stirrer.

Everything that we do will help the environment.

– Gill Bell, Marine Conservation Society in Wales

The charity is calling for a levy on single-use plastic items handed over free when people buy food and drink to eat while out and about, such as straws, cups, lids, stirrers and cutlery, to help stop the rising tide of plastic choking the oceans.

In better news, average numbers of plastic drinks bottles, plastic cups, paper cups and lids are down on last year.

And there has been a 28% drop in bags found on beaches since 2011 when the plastic bag charge was first brought in, in Wales.

But the Great British Beach Clean has also revealed a 94% rise in wet wipes found on UK beaches in a single year.

MCS urged retailers to better label products consumers think can be flushed down the toilet, and for manufacturers to remove plastic from their "flushable" products.