Concern over beach plastics after litter pick

Kirkcaldy MSP David Torrance helps Kinghorn beach volunteers on their litter pick
Kirkcaldy MSP David Torrance helps Kinghorn beach volunteers on their litter pick

The Kinghorn beach clean took place last week, with volunteers helping to record what sort of rubbish is landing in the area.

And while the group found that there were less large plastic items, it has raised concerns that the rise in smaller items could mean there is a greater chance of it being ingested by marine life.

The beach clean is done on behalf of the Marine Conservation Society, with Kinghorn being one of 12 across the UK to take part in the study.

The aim is to survey the amount of litter in the UK marine environment.

The group has agreed to undertake the three-year study, with four cleans per year.

Volunteer Carol Rhodes said there were more smaller pieces of plastic found.

She said: “Basically, we survey 100 metres of Kinghorn Harbour Beach. We collect and record everything that is inorganic that really shouldn’t be on the beach.

“We got two kilos of litter, but it was all very small things; like cigarette stubs and bits of polystyrene. Things like plastic bottles, you can lift out quite easily, but bits of polystyrene and plastics which have degraded, it’s the smaller things that can get into the food chain.

“The study gives you an idea of how the marine litter is changing. There are things that come off ships, there’s things that come from the public, and if you have heavy rain there’s sewage-related debris. By collecting and identifying it you know what the source is.

“I’ve been doing this about ten years, and I’d say the type of litter has changed. Things like tyres, plastic bags, bottles, and crates are reduced, but now it’s the smaller stuff.

“I think the message is ‘don’t use your toilet as a wet bin’. Things like cotton bud sticks and wet wipes – they ought to go in the landfill bin.”

However, aside from the normal litter, Carol said there was another issue the litter pickers found.

She said: “What we did notice, which was really annoying, is more dog mess.

“There was a lot of uncollected dog mess on the sandy bit which is where kids play.

“That’s always worse in winter with the dark nights. There was significantly more than in the past.”

Kirkcaldy MSP David Torrance also volunteered to take part in the beach clean.

He said: “Some of our best-loved marine wildlife is under threat from the waste and litter in our seas, with hundreds of species accidentally eating or becoming entangled in litter. We all have an important part to play in the fight against marine litter.

“You can find future dates and more information about what you can do to help at www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch.”

A spokesman for the Marine Conservation Society said: “The aim is to see if there are any trends detectable from this study over three years.

“It will enable us to work out what the sources are.

“A big worry is that the material never disappears completely, it just goes into smaller particles and those smaller items are more likely to be eaten by a range of animals.”