Plastic toy rescue on Fylde coast beaches

Plastic toy rescue on Fylde coast beaches

Plastic toy rescue on Fylde coast beaches

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 watering cans.

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 reused.”

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 with deckchairs.

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.