Dramatic rise in rubbish found on north's beaches
THE amount of litter found on beaches across Northern Ireland has jumped by more than 300 per cent in a year, a report has found.
More than 7,000 items of rubbish were lifted over just a single kilometre stretch of beaches in the north during a clean-up last year.
There was a "whopping" 235 per cent rise in plastic bottles collected.
The report from the Marine Conservation Society's (MCS) Great British Beach Clean showed the number of plastic bottles found across the UK had increased, with an average of 99 picked up along every kilometre at 340 beaches.
More than 130 volunteers headed to the seaside in Northern Ireland for one weekend last September, collecting and recording litter along seven beaches.
An average of 6,695 litter items per kilometre were found last year compared to just 1,644 in 2014.
However, with just seven beaches surveyed and cleaned, the MCS said they would like to see more volunteers getting involved next year to build up a clearer picture of the situation.
The report said 77 kilos of rubbish was collected on the north's beaches, with the most items found in Down.
Overall in the UK, there was just a 34 per cent rise in rubbish at the seaside compared with 2014 levels.
All regions saw an increase - except Wales where levels dropped after a record rise the previous year.
Small pieces of plastic topped the list of litter picked up, with 960 bits collected for each kilometre of beach cleaned.
Glass was the second most common rubbish, with 208 pieces on average per kilometre.
The volunteers found 197 crisp or sandwich packets and lolly or sweet wrappers for every kilometre of the seaside they combed.
Other common litter included bottle caps and lids, string and rope, cotton bud sticks, cutlery, trays and straws, as well as fishing nets and cigarette stubs.
Lauren Eyles, MCS beachwatch manager, said: "There have been increases in the number of plastic bottles found on beaches in England, Scotland, Channel Islands and Northern Ireland.
"The bottles we find on beaches are either dropped directly onto the beach, blown from land or sea or end up there via rivers.
"The more we use as a nation, the more we'll see ending up on our shores."
The MCS said putting a charge on the bottles that gets refunded when they are returned would change behaviour, and called for the British government to explore the potential of such a scheme.