Litter being left behind on beaches is sadly nothing new.
But the mounds of plastic beach toys that are being discarded at the end of a
day of sun, sea and sand is a worrying trend.
Last summer, across beaches on the Fylde coast in
Lancashire, many volunteer beach cleaners collected these toys separately from
their mixed rubbish bags and cleaned them up for reuse. Looking ahead to
beaches being busy again this spring and summer, the beach cleaners are urging
families to take their toys home rather than leave them behind.
From May to October a volunteer beach clean group in
Blackpool collected over 1000 plastic toys, including 307 buckets, 337 spades,
602 plastic toy shapes, 137 plastic rakes and over 50 footballs, sieves and
Further down the coast in the seaside resort of St Annes,
volunteers collected 133 plastic toys that were left on the beach. They then
cleaned and donated them to a local charity, Park View 4U, who work with
children on environmental projects and run Beach Schools education programme so
can put the items to good use.
Michael Pearson, volunteer group leader, says, “Rather than
add to the growing amount of waste heading to incineration or landfill, we
decided to save the buckets, spades and plastic moulds knowing they could be
Plastic buckets, spades and toys are made of PVC, a type of
plastic which is difficult to recycle and could take up over 450 years to break
down in landfill.
For beach managers who witness this problem across the
country, one solution could be offering beach toy collection bins at entry/exit
points to the beach, so that when leaving, families can deposit unwanted toys
here for light cleaning and reuse.
There may also be opportunities to engage retailers who
could trial a deposit return scheme for beach toys, or hire them out as many do
Raising awareness with beach visitors about this issue is a
first step, whether through a campaign, posters, news stories, social media or
actions at the beach, families should be encouraged to take home with them
everything they have brought to the beach and help keep the environment clean
and safe for all.
Part of the Keep Britain Tidy Familly
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