Face masks and gloves have been found on almost a quarter of Scotland’s beaches this year, according to a charity.
Around 400 volunteers headed to nearly 100 Scottish shores as part of the Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) Great British Beach Clean 2020, and found face masks and gloves on 23.5% of them.
Meanwhile, data from the inland Source to Sea Litter Quest also found personal protective equipment (PPE) in 69% of the areas that volunteers were cleaning.
Lizzie Prior, the MCS beach clean co-ordinator, said: “The amount of PPE our volunteers found on beaches and inland this year is certainly of concern.
“Considering masks were only made mandatory a matter of months ago, the spike in their presence on our shores is worrying.
“Whilst we continue to battle with the ongoing presence of other single-use litter, PPE pollution cannot be part of our new normal.”
The most common litter item on Scottish beaches was plastic and small polystyrene pieces up to 50cm, found in 78.2% of areas.
Wet wipes were found on 45.8% of beaches; plastic and polystyrene packets such as crisps, sweets and sandwiches on 26.5%; plastic cotton bud sticks on 19.9%; and plastic string at 15.6% of the areas.
Catherine Gemmell, MCS Scotland conservation officer, said: “So much avoidable plastic waste is still being produced and discarded on Scotland’s shores, eventually ending up in the ocean.
“Wet wipes, cigarette butts and other plastic single-use items remain prolific and are among the most commonly found items this year.
“We use the data collected during the surveying and clearing of litter from Scotland’s beaches to show the Scottish Government what urgently needs to be done to stop the plastic tide at source.
“The Scottish Government’s single-use plastic consultation, which is open now, is a fantastic opportunity to make your voice heard and tell the Government what single-use plastic items you want to see banned.
“Scotland is leading the charge in introducing a deposit return scheme but the work is certainly not over.”
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