Beaches named worst for wet wipe litter

The beach at Blackhall Rocks
The beach at Blackhall Rocks
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EAST Durham beaches have been named as some of the worst for wet wipe litter.

Piles of the cloths, used by people to remove make-up, wipe babies’ backsides and to apply fake tan, have begun to wash up on UK shores as their popularity rises.

Our sewerage systems weren’t built to cope with wet wipes.

MCS beachwatch officer, Charlotte Coombes

According to the latest beach litter data from the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) in its Great British Beach Clean report, the number of wet wipes found on beaches increased by more than 50 per cent in a single year.

Seaham’s Red Acre beach saw almost three bin bags of rubbish cleared from its rocks and sands thanks to a 50-strong team of volunteers who picked up 363 items of waste.

At Blackhall Rocks, almost 30 bin bags have been filled with the help of almost as many helpers, who collected 2,222 pieces of litter.

The charity’s report, which also reveals a 6.4 per cent rise in beach litter between 2013 and 2014, comes as the Government claims no new action is needed on marine litter and claims it is doing all it can.

MCS says that its report has shown a rising trend in rubbish on UK shores over 20 years and not enough is being done.

The increase in the number of wipes on beaches between 2013 and 2014, equates to about 35 of the little squares on every kilometre of coastline cleaned by the charity’s volunteers during the weekend long event last September.

It saw 5,349 volunteers clean and survey more than 300 beaches, with 2,457 bits of litter were collected for every kilometre cleaned and surveyed in 2014 compared to 2,309 in 2013.

MCS beachwatch officer, Charlotte Coombes, says wipes are being put down the loo instead in the bin.

She said: “Our sewerage systems weren’t built to cope with wet wipes.
 “When flushed they don’t disintegrate like toilet paper, and they typically contain plastic so once they reach the sea, they last for a very long time.
 “They can cause blockages in our sewers, and then, everything else that has been flushed down the loo can either back up into people’s homes, or overflow into rivers and seas.

She added: “Overflows also happen during excessive rainfall, or if the plumbing hasn’t been connected up properly meaning the wrong pipes are heading straight to the sea.”

Among the strange items found in the litter picks across the country were a colostomy bag, a plastic hand, part of Second World War sea defences which are now in a museum, a piping gun nozzle, a bra strap, and on one beach, nine pairs of shoes in various sizes.