How can a supermarket clean England’s beaches?

In partnership with the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), Waitrose is helping clean England’s rivers and beaches. It is anticipated that this will be the largest ever English beach clean, with thousands of volunteers cleaning beaches at over 1,000 events.

Beach litter

According to MCS, the prevalence of beach litter has increased in recent years, with an average of 694 items collected for every 100 meters cleaned. This includes plastic bottles, carrier bags, nappies and balloons, amongst other smaller plastic pieces. The beach environment suffers as litter is either dropped, blown or washed up all over the country.

Once collected

Waitrose is able to sponsor the beach cleans through the income raised from the mandatory 5p plastic carrier bag charge. Because of this, the litter collected is sorted and recycled, rather than simply removed, putting the waste to good use. Rigid plastic bottles and cigarette stubs, for example, can be converted to shampoo bottles and advertising boards with TerraCycle.

Citizen science

The Great British Beach Clean is the most respected and longest standing “citizen science” beach litter survey in the U.K. Volunteers (ordinary citizens) record the litter they collect and send the data to the MCS. This offers insight into trends, sources of litter and litter hotspots to better focus clean up efforts. The campaign will also donate £1 million to projects that tackle plastic pollution.

This story shows how Waitrose supports Goal 14: Life Below Water, specifically Target 14.1: “By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution.”

About Waitrose

Waitrose is a chain of British supermarkets, which forms the food retail division of Britain’s largest employee-owned retailer, the John Lewis Partnership.

Commitments, Actions and Progress from Waitrose 

Marine Conservation Society