KIRKCALDY residents are being urged to bag it and bin it, after a recent beach survey revealed a huge rise the amount of sanitary waste washed up on our shores.
And Fifers are some of the worst culprits, with a rise of over 40 per cent in sewage related debris.
The statistics, from the Marine Conservation Society, come in the same week that Seafield Environmental Group is urging locals to help out at a beach clean-up.
Lauren Davis, MSC beachwater officer, said the figures reveal a shocking picture of what people do in their own bathrooms.
She said: “Increasingly people seem to be putting things down their loos that belong in the bin - cotton buds, condoms, tampons and sanitary towels are being flushed away with an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ perception.
“But sewerage networks and waste water treatment works are not specifically designed to remove these items, and more and more are ending up in our rivers and then on our beaches.”
Seafield Beach and Kinghorn Harbour both took part in the most recent round of beach surveys, while Leven beach was named one of the worst in the UK for the amount of cotton buds washed up on the shore.
Plastic pieces accounted for the biggest percentage of waste on o beaches, along with sweet and crisp wrappers.
Fishing nets, drink cans and plastic bottles all also featured highly on the list.
Smokers are also among some of the biggest culprits with cigarette ends littering the sand.
Some of the more bizarre items washed up included a toilet seat, tea light candles and a plastic shower head.
Rohan Cragg, chairman of Seafield Environmental Group, said since more than half of all litter found during the group’s last clean-up was plastic.
He said: “Since the Beachwatch Big Weekend began in 1994 plastic items have increased by 135 per cent. Plastics pose a great threat to marine wildlife - they take thousands of years to fully break down and generally plastic doesn’t leave the marine environment.
“We desperately don’t want to see our marine life suffer when we can prevent it from happening.”
Rob Mustard, general manager of waste water operations for Scottish Water, said an estimated 340 million items of sanitary waste are flushed every year, while 55 per cent of sewer blockages are caused by people pouring cooking fat down their sink.
He said: “Every year around £6m of customer’s money is spent by Scottish Water trying to fix these blockages and repair the damage.”