Arran joined in the Great British Beach Clean 2020

from 18 to 25 September 2020

Despite the restrictions required by Coronavirus regulations and sticking strictly within guidelines, Think About Plastic - Arran were delighted to be able to join the Marine Conservation Society’s annual data collection (19th- 25th September) which surveys litter on beaches throughout the UK. Beach cleans must follow strict guidelines at present and public beach cleans are not allowed so each survey/clean was done by no more than two households and most were done by a couple or an individual as a private and unpublicised event. Additional levels of hygiene and safety were employed and each clean was led by an experienced beach clean organiser from nearby to minimise un-necessary travel. All twelve existing ‘target’ beaches were surveyed, enabling comparative data to be collected for Brodick, Margnaheglish, Lamlash, Cordon, Whiting Bay, Kildonan, Kilmory, Blackwaterfoot, Machrie, Pirnmill, Lochranza and Corrie. TAP would like to thank those ‘households’ from COAST, Whiting Bay and Districts Improvements Association, Lochranza Community Association, Pirmill Village Association and Corrie Hall. Other beach cleans were led by very committed volunteers and/or TAP steering committee members. All beach cleans were risk assessed and participants were covered by insurance. TAP amalgamated the data and would like to thank MCS for their support in providing additional charts for Arran as a whole and Geoffrey Dallamore for uploading the information to the TAP website.

The data collected by volunteers contributes to national and international statistics and provides information about the type and volume of litter on local beaches which TAP uses to inform policy associated with plastic. The information is made freely available to anyone on the island through TAP’s website.

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.

Arran

In 2019 there was an encouraging reduction in the percentage of plastic from 76.2% to 64.5% over 9 beaches which were surveyed both years and 51.6% for the twelve beaches surveyed in 2020. In 2020 plastic accounted for 81% of the items collected. Whilst the raw data indicates an increase in plastic, comparative data demonstrates that the total amount of litter collected had gone down by 50% overall ( 2.29 items per m² (2019) compared with 1.15m²(2020) so in real terms the amount of plastic has decreased.

In addition, glass and ceramics accounted for 11% of beach litter in 2019. In 2020 some beach organisers/data collectors excluded ‘sea-smoothed’ glass which reduced the percentage of glass to 3.8%. and consequently increased the proportion of plastic.

There was a total absence of faeces for which we must thank Arran dog owners, many of whom work with Paws On Plastic, a Facebook based ‘organisation’ which has co-operated with TAP and been encouraged by TAP since TAP was awarded ‘plastic free’ status by Surfers Against Sewage. The membership of Paws On Plastic has increased significantly on Arran over the last two years and their ‘members’ clean beaches daily, as they walk their dogs.

There was also a total absence of pollutants such as oil and tar.

The period of ‘lockdown’ will have impacted on the litter on beaches and nationally many have reported an increase in both single use plastic and disposable personal protective items in beach litter. However, it seems, this is not the case on Arran. During lockdown, observation indicated that litter was almost totally absence on many beaches and along the shores. There have been many visitors on Arran since the lockdown eased but there was still an overall reduction in items of litter and only one piece of litter (a face mask) which could be linked directly to the measures put in place for COVID19. The beaches/shores were widely used for exercise by residents during lockdown.

There was also an apparent split, between the more populated areas (largely on the east coast) and more remote areas where the reduction in litter was not so apparent. This could imply that residents who pick up litter can be more effective where there are larger populations but also suggests that much of the litter which is brought by the sea ‘lodges’ in exposed and remote areas such as Kilmory. There were quite marked differences in litter quantity and type between different Arran beaches in 2020.

The sources of this litter which were attributable to public activity in 2020 were just under 23% (35% In 2018). In 2019 the litter which was attributable to the public on all the beaches surveyed were 19.9%. The public includes residents and visitors. This indicates a slight percentage increase but again this is skewed because much glass and pottery was excluded and the actual amount of plastic litter has decreased.

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.

A general decrease in the number of cotton buds and sticks and wet wipes may be the result of decreased visitor numbers or as a result of national and local publicity about the harmful effect of these products to marine life.

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.

There was much less litter on this beach than in 2019. 12 items (2020) in the survey area compared with 46 items (2019). 75% comprised plastic with almost equal proportions of glass, metal and pottery accounting for the remaining litter.

There is an absence of paper and, in particular, no cigarette stubs were found.

The percentages should be regarded with caution as there were so few items on this beach. There is a decrease in litter attributable to the public from 48% (2019) to 33% (2020). However, items associated with fishing (angling and commercial fishing) increased from 2% to 16.7%. In reality, there were only two items connection to fishing found– a piece of cord and a length of angling line.

 
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.
Lamlash
Organisers: Timothy Billings (Lamlash Improvements), Helen How (Think About Plastic-Arran) and Sue Ash (COAST)
Organisations responsible: Margnaheglish Beach: Lamlash Improvements Association
Lamlash Beach: TAP (Think About Plastic-Arran)
Cordon: COAST (Community of Arran Seabed Trust)

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

Margnaheglish

total of 13 items was found on this beach. These small numbers can result in misleading percentages so care should be taken in interpreting the results.

Plastic accounted for 23% of the litter with pottery being the largest category at 54% and the shore near this beach being used historically by nearby houses to dispose of household refuse. No items were attributable to the ‘public’ as a source. The apparently large weight of the beach clean items may be accounted for by the fact that a wooden post was included in the items found. 54% of items found were attributed to fly-tipping and the remaining 46% is non-sourced.

Lamlash Beach (From the Pier to the Ship House)

Almost no rubbish was found on this beach (8 items), with an even split of 50% glass and 50% plastic. This beach is well-used by locals and visitors and is regularly cleared of litter by walkers and local schoolchildren, as is the green adjacent to the beach.

Much of the litter (62.5%) is non-sourced, with 25% being attributable to the public and the remainder to fishing.

Cordon

The amount of plastic collected from this beach over the survey area was considerably more than in 2019. 3.83 items per m² compared with 0.88 items per m² in 2019. The litter was predominately plastic 83% - in line with findings in 2019. The remaining litter is a mixture from other categories.

Detailed data shows that there is still ‘avoidable’ rubbish being left on this beach which is almost certainly a result of picnics and visitors to the beach (drink cans, sweet wrappers, items of clothing). This was an item which was identified by TAP as an action point in last year’s survey. However, TAPs plans were postponed due to ‘lockdown’. Cordon is a popular area for holiday makers and second home-owners.

 
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 House)
Cordon to Kingscross
Whiting Bay (Sandbraes)
Organiser: Eric Kay
Organisation : Whiting Bay and Districts Improvement Association

This is an area which is cleaned regularly by Whiting Bay and Districts Improvement Association. However, regular beach cleaning has been suspended in 2020. There were many fewer items found this year, 90 (2020) compared with 385 (2019) . Whilst the percentage of plastic in 2020 is 72% compared with 34.5% this actually represents a reduction in real terms which amounts to half the items of plastic found over the survey area as there were last year.

22% was sanitary waste (a high percentage).

There was less building rubble in 2020 with no items attributed to fly-tipping. Pottery and glass which was sea worn was excluded from this survey. Only 16.7% of litter is attributable to the public.

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: Jo Totty and Zabdi Keen
Organisation: TAP (Think About Plastic - Arran)

There was a large reduction in the number of items found in the survey area compared with previous years. 1.29 items per m² (2019) 0.3 items per m² (2020). 93% of the items were plastic compared with 65% in 2019. However, there has been a considerable reduction in plastic found in real terms. The remainder of the litter was rubber and cloth. There were no sanitary waste items, medical waste or faeces and toiletry items were considerably reduced. Whilst further research would be necessary, the nature of the litter on Kildonan beach in 2019 indicated the possibility of contents of a bin or bins being wind-blown onto the beach. This type of litter was absent in 2020. The absence of faeces despite large numbers of resident dog owner in Kildonan is a tribute to their respect for the environment.

The amount of litter attributable to the public in 2019 was 47% and in 2020 was 53%.

 
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.
Kilmory
Organiser: Jo Totty and Zabdi Keen
Organisation: TAP (Think About Plastic - Arran)

The amount of litter on this beach had increased quite a lot since last year and this year there were 3.86 items per m² compared with 2.1 per m² in 2019. Plastic accounts for 93.8% of the litter.

Only 21.5% of the litter on this beach is attributable to the public and much of the plastic litter is sourced to fishing (40%).

It seems that much of the litter is brought to this beach by the sea. It is remote and the nearest settlement, Kilmory, has a small population. This is a beach where regular beach cleaning could make a positive impact.

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.
Blackwaterfoot
Organiser: Ellen McMaster
Organisation: TAP (Think About Plastic - Arran)
The amount of litter on this beach in 2020 is 0.9 items per m². This compares with 7.81 in 2019. This represents a huge improvement in the amount of litter on this beach. It is difficult to attribute this improvement to one particular source. Plastic accounts for 90% of the litter (82% in 2019) but the actual reduction in all litter and plastic has reduced by more than 800%.. It was evident in 2019 that a fair proportion of the litter had been generated by leisure activities – picnicking, BBQs, swimming, angling etc. parties and whilst this type of litter still features (especially fast food-related litter which has increased) it is pleasing to see that overall litter is greatly reduced.
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.
Machrie
Organiser: Ellen McMaster
Organisation: TAP (Think About Plastic - Arran)

Machrie was one of the beaches with the highest proportion of plastic (92%) in 2019. This has reduced to 77% in 2020. In common with most other beaches the total amount of litter has reduced. In 2019 a total of 255 items were found compared with 75 items found in 2020 despite the width of beach being surveyed being 20m i.e. double the width of beach surveyed last year. Sanitary waste had increased proportionately from 2.7 to 14.7% but this is accounted for by 6 wet wipes. This is also reflected in the proportion of sewage related debris which shows an increase from 2.7% to 14.7% (an increase from 7 to 11 items) and this subsequently reduces the proportion of plastic.

The amount of material attributable to the public has increased at Machrie from 9.4% to 42.7%. This is mostly explained by a reduction in the number of small pieces of plastic/polystyrene. On several beaches these have been affected by the sea and it is not possible to identify their original purpose. More recent pieces of plastic/polystyrene can often be identified as sweet wrappers etc. A possible explanation is that as this beach is cleaned the number and proportion of older pieces of plastic reduce being gradually replaced by more recent pieces of plastic from the beach or sea.

 
See the full details...
We've put together a document detailing the different types of items found on Machrie beach including a pie chart to show the proportion of each type of item found. You can download it in PDF format here.
Pirnmill
Organiser: Mark Harwood
Organisation: Pirnmill Village Association
More items were found on this beach then in 2019. However, the numbers involved are particularly small and therefore an increase from a total of 4 items to a total of 8 is not statistically significant. The tiny numbers involved result in apparently large percentage changes being less significant than they at first appear. Thus 25% plastic in 2019 became 75% in 2020 because rather than one piece of plastic found there were 3 pieces of plastic, a sandal, a piece of angling line and part of a car battery. The fact remains, this beach has very little litter of any kind.
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.
Lochranza
Organiser: Hilary McGuire
Organisation: Lochranza and Catacol Village Association / TAP (Think About Plastic - Arran)

Lochranza is one of the few beaches where litter has increased compared with the same area surveyed last year. In 2019 a total of 97 items were found whereas in 2020 this number had risen to 194 (exactly double).In 2019, 70% of the litter found was classified as plastic. This had risen to 92% in 2020. Much of this additional litter can be directly attributable to leisure activities – eating and drinking outdoors, angling. Lochranza volunteers had noticed builders waste which had been dumped on the shore in Lochranza during the 2019 survey. This was absent in 2020. It is known that there were some issues with ‘wild campers’ abandoning waste in the Lochranza area during and after lockdown and it is tempting to speculate that some anti-social behaviour on the part of non-residents may be the cause of increased litter on this beach.

46% of the litter found is attributable to fishing (including angling). This was the largest percentage from fishing for any of the beaches surveyed.

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

This beach also saw a significant reduction in the total amount of items found (100) during the 2020 survey compared with last year when 685 items were found. Only 15% of the items found were plastic. Although this has increased as a percentage of the total, the number of plastic items found has decreased from 22 in 2019 to 15 in 2020. 37% of items found were pottery (62% in 2019) and 32% were glass (34% in 2019). In common with several other places the village used the area along the shore historically to dispose of refuse thus explaining the large amounts of broken crocks and glass. The amount of litter attributable to fly-tipping has decreased but there is still some evidence of preventable littering of building and industrial waste.

The amount of litter attributable to the public remains very small with most items attributable to fly-tipping or non-sourced.

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