Charities Urge Tax for ‘On-the-Go’ Plastic Packaging as Garbage on UK Beaches Rise


    By Øyvind Holmstad [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons

    This year, trash found along beaches that were targeted in a nationwide clean-up, grew by 10 percent, with a fifth of the garbage made up of various “on-the-go” food and drinks items including foil wrappers, bottles, and cups.

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

    The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) said that on-the-go pieces made up 20 percent of all the garbage that was found in the annual survey and clean-up this year, and 63 percent of the beach trash were dropped by the people.

    The charity is requesting for a tax on single-use plastic items handed over for free when people order food and drinks to eat while they are out and about, including cups, straws, stirrers, lids, and cutlery, to help prevent the increasing tide of plastic items choking the oceans.

    The call comes amid increasing concern regarding plastic waste in the oceans that were recently highlighted by the Blue Planet 2 documentary series of the BBC, which has urged the Government to pledge to examine charges or taxes for single-use plastics.

    The MCS beach-and-river clean project officer, Lizzie Prior, stated: “The 5p single-use carrier bag charge has made a massive difference to the number of plastic bags entering our seas.

    “If a levy was placed on single-use plastic such as straws, stirrers, cutlery, cups and cup lids, we’re confident that we’d find fewer of these items on our beaches.”

    Sandy Luk, MCS chief executive, stated: “Our beach clean evidence shows a shocking rise in the amount of litter this year. Our oceans are choking in plastic.

    “We urgently need a levy on single-use plastic as a first step.”

    Overall, the amount of garbage that was picked up in the survey grew by 10 percent on the figures from 2016, with an average of 718 pieces of trash found on every 100 metres of the beach, as 6,944 volunteers cleaned 399 stretches of the coastline of the United Kingdom for this year’s event.

    The MCS said that there had been a 27 percent rise in polystyrene or plastic items since 2008, with small pieces up 11 percent in 2016 and 38 percent in the decade.

    In better news, the average number of plastic cups, plastic drink bottles, paper cups and lids are down from last year.

    And there has been a 28 percent drop in bags that were found on beaches since the introduction of the plastic bag charge was introduced in Wales in 2011.

    However, the Great British Beach Clean has also revealed a 94 percent increase in wet wipes that were found on the beaches of the United Kingdom in a single year.

    MCS urged retailers to improve their labels on products that consumers think can be flushed down the toilet, and for manufacturers to exclude plastic from their “flushable” products.