Arran joined in the Great British Beach Clean 2019

from 20 to 23 September 2019

These beach cleans and data collections were conducted on the weekend of 20th-23rd September 2019 (Blackwaterfoot on the following weekend due to pre-existing village commitments). Villages were invited to participate through their village improvement organisations and also through an invitation on social media for individuals to come forward as organisers. Whiting Bay and Districts Improvements Association and Lamlash Improvements Association, Kilmory Hall, Lochranza Community Association and Corrie all conducted beach cleans in their own right and other beach cleans were led by very committed volunteers and /or TAP steering committee members. All beach cleans had risk assessments conducted and lodged with the Marine Conservation Society and any participant who was not covered by the insurance of an existing organisation was covered by MCS. All organisers submitted data which was input by TAP, Marine Conservation Society provided charts illustrating the data. TAP also amalgamated the data and would like to thank MCS for their support in providing additional charts for Arran as a whole. In preparation for this Arran-wide beach clean, TAP is grateful for information and support from Arran Coastguard and the Marine Conservation Society. Whilst the data from individual beaches provides interesting information, it has also been amalgamated to give a picture across Arran’s beaches. In 2018 the North and North East of the island was not well-represented but this year Machrie, Lochranza and Corrie have participated.. It is TAP’s intention to try to address issues which have come to light as a result of this year’s surveys. In particular TAP will be trying to work with visitors as much as possible to reduce the amount of litter from picnics and recreational use of our beaches but we must also be aware that some of this litter may be from islanders and we will be working to try to share information with islanders too. When looking at the data it is important to remember that this is a ‘snapshot’ of what we found on the days we surveyed. It is also important to look at the data in context. For example, where small amounts of beach litter were found, the percentages are likely to be skewed and comparison with other beaches and the same beach over time are also likely to be distorted.


In 2018 76.2% of the litter on Arran’s beaches was plastic. In 2019 the percentage of litter on the same beaches is 64.5 % an overall reduction of over 11%. If the three beaches which were not surveyed in 218 are included the percentage of plastic has reduced to 51.6%. - a decrease of 24.6%. The inclusion of additional beaches on the north end of the island where there is a smaller resident population and fewer visitors using the beaches for picnics is partly responsible for this change in 2019. The next largest category of litter is glass and ceramics at 11% compared with 7% in 2018 and remaining categories sharing smaller percentages of the total. The overall amount of litter has gone down over the past year , making these percentage reductions even more significant. The sources of this litter which were public in 2018 were just under 35%, non-sourced 32% Fishing 22% (this includes angling and commercial fishing), shipping 5% and medical, fly-tipped, sewage related the remaining 6%. In 2019 the litter which was attributable to the public on all the beaches surveyed were 19.9%. The public includes residents and visitors On Arran much of the material categorised as ‘non-sourced’ is from historic. shore-line domestic waste disposal. It is pottery and glass which has been worn smooth and is therefore of little danger to both sea-life and people. There are some issues to work on and TAP will be taking them forward in the coming year. For example there are some beaches were picnic litter is prevalent and this is an educational issue. We will continue to work with others on Arran to find solutions to support more remote beaches. TAP is grateful for the support of NAC, the Marine Conservation Society, COAST, Eco-Savvy, the Co-op. The issue of plastic in our seas is complex, there is no quick answer but by working together and involving everyone we can do a lot to make Arran a beacon island where everyone Thinks About Plastic before they buy it, use it and dispose of it. TAP would like to thank everyone who was involved in any way in these beach cleans and data collections. The resulting information provides excellent data against which we can measure our progress in reducing plastic in the sea around Arran. The event was an amazing exercise in demonstrating the will of the people of Arran to work together for the benefit of our island. The issue transcends party politics and it is a privilege to have both our Arran councillors very actively involved. We would also like to thanks the dog walkers of Paws on Plastic who collect litter on their walks every day and those individuals unknown by name who take responsibility and pick up plastic on a regular basis. The data collection indicates that the plastic on our beaches (and therefore in our seas) originates in some instances from outwith Arran. However, some of it is the result of the actions of visitors or residents and this is where we can make a difference! The reduction in plastic found on our beaches over the last year is encouraging and an indicator that by working together the people of Arran can improve our beaches and seas and make them better places for people and marine life.

A detailed breakdown of what was found and where it came from...

We have put together a full breakdown of the types of items collected during all the beachcleans that place on Arran as part of the Great British Beachclean. This includes pie charts showing Material Types and Sources. You can download this as a PDF.

See what we found on each beach...

Brodick Beach
Organiser: Helen How
Organisation responsible for this beach clean TAP (Think About Plastic-Arran)
NB. There are several organisations and individuals who clean this beach at other times.

The percentage of plastic litter found on this beach reduced from 54.9% (2018) to 43.5% (2019). More than 10% in just one year.

The overall amount of litter has also gone down with the average number of items per linear m being 0.46 compared with 1.73 (2018). Paper and cardboard now make up 41.3% of all litter, compared with 8.7% last year, of the total number of 19 cardboard/paper items found 16 were cigarette stubs. These are classified as paper items in the MCS survey. However, National Geographic Magazine (Aug 2019) classifies cigarette stubs with filters as ‘toxic plastic pollution’ as these filters are made from a plastic called cellulose acetate and they also contain the toxins which they have ‘filtered’. These stubs break down into microplastics which are harmful to marine life and have been found to restrict plant growth. The percentages of glass, pottery, ceramics, cloth and rubber have all decreased.

One interesting fact peculiar to Brodick beach is that whilst the overall amount of litter (number of items reduced from 50 items to 22 items) has gone down, the public is now considered to be responsible for 47.8% of all litter (compared with 28.9% in 2018) with historic, fishing, sewage-related and fly-tipped litter down from 71% to 52%.

Whilst there is an overall improvement in litter and plastic pollution on this beach the substantial percentage of litter and plastic from public generated sources. This does not mean that the overall amount of litter generated from public sources has increased but that the proportion of litter from public sources has increased. This means that improvement can be secured in future by consistent efforts on the part of islanders and visitors.

See the full details...
We've put together a document detailing the different types of items found on Brodick beach including a pie chart to show the proportion of each type of item found. You can download it in PDF format here.
Organisers: Timothy Billings (Lamlash Improvements), Helen How (Think About Plastic-Arran) and Jenny Stark (COAST)
Organisations responsible: Lamlash Beach and Margnaheglish Beach: Lamlash Improvements Association
Cordon: COAST (Community of Arran Seabed Trust) and TAP (Think About Plastic-Arran)

In total three separate 100m stretches were surveyed with considerable differences noticed between each area.


The data for this beach demonstrates a reduction in litter per linear metre (from 0.53 to 0.33) and a large reduction in the proportion of plastic which makes up the total litter from 49.1% (2018) to 15.2% (2019). In simple terms, there is two thirds less plastic on this stretch of beach than at the same time last year.

Glass, pottery and ceramics (from a historic waste site) now constitute 78% of beach litter. Most of this is smooth fragments. Lat year 3 bottles were found on this beach. This year there were no complete or part bottles found and no golf balls which have in the past been regular finds on this beach because of some individuals practising their ‘drive’ on the nearby green!

Lamlash Beach

Whilst the total number of items found on this beach increased from 4 to 35 and the proportion of plastic appeared to decrease from 75% to 50%, it must be remembered that the 2018 results (based on only 4 items) lead to skewed comparisons, particularly of percentages. However, the fact remains that more litter was found on this beach this year. This is one of the busiest beaches on Arran and the beach clean followed a particularly busy Arran Bank Holiday with hot, sunny weather. Large numbers of visitors and locals had been attracted to spectate the Lamlash Splash (itself an open-water swim which goes to great lengths to ensure that participants avoid using plastic during or after the swim). All things considered, an average of 0.35 items per m after such a day is pleasing progress. Last year the day was bleak and wet and attracted few beach users.


This beach demonstrated a total decrease in the number of items found from 0.77 per m to 0.64 per m. There is also a decrease in the weight of items collected from 10kg to 1.3 kg.

The percentage of plastic increased from 57.1% to 81.2 and litter attributable to the general public increased from 10% to 31.3%. Much of the plastic litter was consistent with picnics and leisure activities (including angling). The area is not particularly popular with day trippers as road access is ‘off the beaten track’. However, there is a settlement with a considerable number of holiday accommodation properties here. Shoes, magazines and clothing were also found here – again typical of the remnants of holiday activities.

An ‘awareness campaign’ may help reduce picnic litter on this beach.

See the full details...
We've put together a document detailing the different types of items found on the beaches in Lamlash, including a pie chart to show the proportion of each type of item found. You can download it in PDF format here.
Margnaheglish Shore
Lamlash Beach (Pier to The Ship)
Cordon to Kingscross
Whiting Bay (Sandbraes)
Organiser: Eric Kay
Organisation : Whiting Bay and Districts Improvement Association

A first glance at the figures for this beach shows that the number of items has increased from 91 (2018) to 385 (2019). However, this statistic includes 115 fragments of pottery, 21 pieces of glass and 67 pieces of wire and metal, which the organisers recognised as construction materials which are unusual finds for this beach. An observation ratified by comparison with last year’s data. The weight of litter decreased from 2018 despite the presence of several heavy items.

There has been a significant reduction in the proportion of plastic waste from 72.5% (2018) to 34.4% (2019) with fly-tipped litter accounting for much of this ‘swing’. Fly-tipped litter has increased from 3.3% to 39.7%. In common with some other Arran beaches much of the non-sourced litter originates in historic refuse sites.

The number of incidences of bagged dog faeces found from 1 (2018) to 12(2019) is disappointing particularly as we know dog owners are amongst some of our most dedicated individual beach cleaners.

Volunteers were clearly surprised by the amount of construction materials they found. Hopefully this is an isolated phenomenon. The reduction in both plastic pollution and the amount of litter originating from members of the public is encouraging, particularly as this is one of the Arran beaches where the local village association conducts systematic, regular and well-supported beach cleans.

See the full details...
We've put together a document detailing the different types of items found on Sandraes beach including a pie chart to show the proportion of each type of item found. You can download it in PDF format here.
Kildonan (Silversands)
Organiser: Zabdi Keen
Organisation: TAP (Think About Plastic - Arran)

The total number of items and the total number of items per linear m has increased since 2018 0.5 items per m (2018) and 1.29 per m (2019). However, it is important to note that the width of beach surveyed this year was three times larger than last year but the number of items recorded is less than three times as many which means the amount of litter has reduced in real terms. The weight of litter recorded has decreased from 10Kg to 6kg. Despite initial impressions, these statistics indicate that the total amount of litter has decreased on this beach since the same weekend last year.

In 2018 plastic constituted 86% of all litter found but this has reduced to 65% in 2019. It therefore follows that the proportion of some other types of litter have increased. The amount of sanitary waste increased proportionally from 2% to 8.5%. In 2019 the remaining waste (after excluding plastic) consisted of ten different types of material compared with five types in 2018.

There has been almost no change in the percentage of litter generated by the public on this beach.

Whilst there are very few publicised beach cleans on this beach there are several committed locals who pick up plastic every day whilst walking on the beach. Much of this plastic is brought to the beach by the sea although some is wind blown from the land.

See the full details...
We've put together a document detailing the different types of items found on Silversands beach including a pie chart to show the proportion of each type of item found. You can download it in PDF format here.
Organiser: Gillian McGuire
Organisation: Kilmory Hall

Kilmory Beach gave cause for concern in 2018 due to the large amount of litter which was collected. It is a difficult beach to clean due to its relatively remote location, its exposure to tide and wind- borne litter and the fact that Kilmory is a small community which is very active and has excellent community spirit but nevertheless, is limited by population size.

The data analysis for 2019 indicates significant improvement which is not immediately apparent from the pie charts.

The area of beach surveyed in 2019 was six times larger than the area surveyed in 2018 but despite this fact, the number of items of litter per linear metre reduced from 3.76 to 2.07 per m. Unfortunately, the weight of litter is a missing variable so comparisons cannot be made with this set of data.

In 2018 85% of the items recorded were plastic. This has reduced slightly by 2% to 83% but as the overall amount of litter has gone down this still indicates improvement which is masked by the statistics.

See the full details...
We've put together a document detailing the different types of items found on Kilmory beach including a pie chart to show the proportion of each type of item found. You can download it in PDF format here.
Organiser: Ellen McMaster
Organisation: TAP (Think About Plastic - Arran)

Despite the apparent increase in litter as indicated by the larger number of items recorded in the same section and area as that surveyed last year, some of these items are small (but nevertheless harmful to marine life). For example, 104 items of sanitary waste contained 87 cotton buds. In addition, the overall weight of the litter collected was nearly double that collected in 2018. However, this included a large chunk of wood containing nails which would account for a substantial amount of the weight. This illustrates the importance of not viewing indicators in isolation.

The percentage of plastic pollution has decreased by 4.5% but still makes up 82% of the total litter. Plastic rope and string (associated with the fishing industry) increased in proportion to other litter when compared with 2018.

Despite there still being relatively large amounts of litter associated with picnics and leisure activities (e.g. 56 crisp/sweet/sandwich packets) the percentage of litter originating from members of the public has reduced from 50.7% to 28.4%.

This is encouraging. When one percentage reduces another will obviously increase as the comparisons are always as a proportion of 100%. Whilst it may be considered it is easier to change our own behaviour and that of visitors to our island, surveys like this provide detailed information and contribute to policy which can influence the behaviour of other sectors. Fishing, shipping and sewage are indicated as sectors which contribute to the marine pollution on Blackwaterfoot beach.

See the full details...
We've put together a document detailing the different types of items found on Blackwaterfoot beach including a pie chart to show the proportion of each type of item found. You can download it in PDF format here.
Organiser: Mark Harwood
Organisation: TAP (Think About Plastic - Arran)

All data for this beach should be considered carefully because the small number of items found results in misleadingly large changes in percentage figures.

This is a beach with little litter. It is exposed to wind and tide but not much-frequented by visitors or those enjoying a picnic . This may possibly suggest that human use of the individual beaches may have more impact than we are assuming? The total number of items collected from the beach fell from 14 (2018) to 4 (2019). The resultant reduction in the proportion of plastic was from 57.2% to 25%. The weight of litter collected was halved.

In conclusion, this is a beach with little litter which is regularly cleaned by a few dedicated locals and is not used by large numbers of visitors.

See the full details...
We've put together a document detailing the different types of items found on Pirnmill beach including a pie chart to show the proportion of each type of item found. You can download it in PDF format here.