Arran joined in the Great British Beach Clean 2021

September 2021

Think About Plastic - Arran were delighted to be able to join the Marine Conservation Society’s annual data collection again in September 2021). The survey collects data on beach litter throughout the UK. 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.

Amalgamated Data for 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 and this percentage was repeated in 2021. 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. The overall amount of litter in 2021 was again 1.15m²,

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.

There have been many visitors enjoying ‘staycations’ on Arran during the summer of 2021 but the 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.

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 and Machrie. 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 25% (35% In 2018) only a 2% increase on 2020. The public includes residents and visitors. This indicates a slight percentage increase.

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. Overall, sewage related debris has decreased by 1.6%.

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 few years 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 for each individual beach surveyed. You can download this as a PDF.

See what we found on each beach...

Brodick Beach
Organiser: Timothy Billings, 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 number of items found on this beach has increased since 2020 but the majority of these items were very small fragments so the amount of litter was comparable.

There was a more diverse range of litter with cloth, paper, wood, medical and sanitary items being found in addition to the plastic, metal and glass items which made up all litter on this beach last year.

There appears to be a slight decrease in the percentage of plastic found from 75% in 2020 to 70% in 2021. However, caution should be exercised in making direct comparisons because of the very small number of items found last year, resulting in skewed percentages.

 
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 Jenny Crocket (COAST)
Organisations responsible: Lamlash Beach and Margnaheglish Beach: Lamlash Improvements Association
Cordon: COAST (Community of Arran Seabed Trust) and TAP (Think About Plastic-Arran)

A total of 53 items were found on this beach This is and increase in the number of items but the quantity was similar to 2020 because items found word mostly fragments.

Plastic accounted for 54% of the litter but most of this wat tiny fragments.

The amount of glass and pottery as a percentage of total litter had decreased. this is known to be historical litter. Its reduction may be attributable to repeated beach-cleaning and visitors and residents collecting sea-glass to make craft items.

Lamalsh (Ship House to Pier)

Next to no litter was found on this beach in 2020 and there was an increase in both amount and categories of litter in 2021.

Almost all the plastic found was in very small fragments. It accounted for 83% of the items found (50% in 2020). However, direct comparison of percentages is not reliable due to the tiny amount of litter found on this beach in 2020.

Most of the litter found was non-sourced.

Lamlash (Cordon)

The amount of plastic found on this speech has reduced since 2020 and the percentage of plastic items found is also lower than 2019.

Plastic items accounted for 65% of those found (83% in 2020). Evidence of avoidable litter left by recreational beach-use [balloons, angling line, cutlery etc] is still present. Whilst this beach tends to be less well-used for activities such as walking, kayaking etc. than Lamlash village beach, the proximity of several holiday homes and lets causes picnic litter [some of which may be windblown from gardens and a nearby play area} to accumulate.

 
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

This is an area which is cleaned regularly by Whiting Bay and Districts Improvement Association. However, regular beach cleaning was suspended in 2020 and has been reduced for part of 2021. There were more items found this year, 154 (2021) compared with 90 (2020). However, less items than 2019 when 385 items were found, The percentage of plastic in 2021 is 52% compared with 72% in 2020.

22% was sanitary waste (a high percentage) in 2020 but this is now down to 3.25%.

There were 16 items attributable to fly-tipping this year. Pottery and glass which was sea worn was excluded from this survey. In 2021, 29% of litter was of litter is attributable to the public, compared with 16.7% in 2020.

This beach, in particular, indicates a close link between use by the public and the amount of litter found.

 
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 reduction in the number of items of litter found in the survey area has increased back to almost the same as pre-pandemic numbers at 1.17 item per m² Previous years were 1.29 items per m² (2019) 0.3 items per m² (2020). 80% of the items were plastic compared with 93% in 2020. The remainder of the litter was mostly metal, rubber and glass with some sanitary, medical, cloth and pottery items. 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 2021 was 30% (2020 was 53%) which demonstrates a reduction but the percentage of fishing-related litter has increased to 21.3%.

 
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 is still high compared with most of the main beaches in Arran. There were 3.67 items per m²on this beach, compared with 3.86 per m² in 2020 and 2.1 per m² in 2019. Plastic accounts for 89% of litter (93.8% of the litter in 2020).

Only 27.7% of the litter on this beach is attributable to the public and much of the plastic litter is sourced to fishing (36%).

There were 7 items of sewage related debris which have almost certainly been brought to the beach from elsewhere by the sea.

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 2021 is 1.75 items per m ². This compares with 0.9 items per m² in 2020 and 7.81 in 2019. This represents a huge improvement in the amount of litter on this beach over the last 2 years. It is difficult to attribute this improvement to one particular source. Plastic accounts for 87.4% of the litter (90% in 2020) but the type of plastic litter is very varied. It is evident in 2021 that a fair proportion of the litter has 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 the downward trend in the overall amount of litter on this popular beach continues.

Fishing, rather than the public, account for a large amount of plastic litter with 34% of litter being attributable to public sources.

 
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 82% in 2021. In common with most other beaches the total amount of litter has reduced. In 2021 a total of 240 items were found but the width of the beach surveyed was 4m Double that surveyed in 2020. 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 to 9.58% of the total.

The amount of material attributable to the public has decreased at Machrie from 42.7% (2020) to 35% (2021). 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. Fishing and shipping together account for the source of 47% of the rubbish on this beach – a high percentage by Arran standards.

 
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

This beach yielded a very small number of items (7) in total. The tiny numbers involved result in apparently large percentage changes being less significant than they at first appear. Thus 85% plastic consists of one plastic sheeting piece, 2 packets, two pieces of cord/string and 1 fragment. Whilst 28.5% of the litter can be attributed to public sources, approximately 43% of the remainder appears to be related to fishing and shipping. 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 increased in 2020 compared with the same area surveyed in 2019. In 2021 a total of 125 items were found whereas in 2020 this number was 194 (exactly double).The amount of plastic litter had risen to 92% in 2020. Much of this additional litter could be directly attributable to leisure activities – eating and drinking outdoors, angling. 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. In 2021 96% of the litter is plastic with the remaining 4% being metal. This is an increase in the percentage but the number of items has decreased.

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 2019 when 685 items were found. In 2021 the number of items has increased to 287 but is still well-below the number of items found in 2019. Only 7% of the items found were plastic, a decrease on lasy year’s 15%. 59%% of items found were pottery (62% in 2019) and 21% 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 the public remains very small with most items being 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.