Azara Blog: British beaches are allegedly drowning in litter

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Date published: 2007/04/20

The BBC says:

The amount of litter on Britain's beaches has increased by more than 90% since 1994, says an annual survey.

The Marine Conservation Society's (MCS) Beachwatch survey of 358 areas found an average of two items of litter for each metre (3.3ft) of beach.

Individuals are the worst offenders, either for direct litter-dropping or wrongly flushing items, such as cotton buds, that end up on beaches.

Fishing debris was another key source, accounting for about 11% of litter.

The survey recorded litter levels of 1,988.7 items per kilometre (0.62 miles) in 2006, up from 1,045 items per kilometre in 1994

MCS said individuals were responsible for more than a third of the litter and many of the top ten items.
Its 2006 report is based on data collected by more than 4,000 volunteers on 358 UK beaches - covering 187 km (116 miles) of coastline - during September 16 and 17 2006.

The implicit spin of the report is that the average British citizen today litters twice as much as in 1994. This is bound to be wrong (that's only 13 years ago, and no habits change that quickly). There are almost certainly several factors coming into play that MCS does not want to acknowledge:

So not only is the average British citizen probably no worse (and conversely, no better) today than in 1994, the entire claim about the doubling of litter is probably also misleading. Of course MCS wants to spin the alleged doubling because, like all special-interest pressure groups, it wants attention, and nobody gets attention unless they claim the world is at an end.

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