Face masks and PPE found on a quarter of beaches

Face masks and PPE found on a quarter of beaches

Face masks and disposable gloves have been found on almost a quarter of beaches in an annual litter survey.

The Marine Conservation Society, which organised the beach clean-up, said the amount of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) found was concerning.

About 400 people took part in the clean-up on almost 100 Scottish beaches in September.

The MCS said wildlife was put at risk by PPE in which it could become entangled.

It said recent pictures showed seabirds’ feet wrapped in the elastic strings of face masks.

Marine animals could also mistake masks and gloves for prey, filling their stomachs with materials which will not break down and could prove to be fatal.

The most common items found on Scotland’s beaches were plastic and polystyrene with an average of 78 pieces found per 100 metres.

Wet wipes, crisps packets and plastic cotton buds were also found in significant numbers.

For the first time, volunteers were asked to record the number of face masks and plastic gloves they found.

PPE was recorded on 23.5% of beaches.

Catherine Gemmell, MSC’s Scotland conservation officer, said: “So much avoidable plastic waste is still being produced and discarded on Scotland’s shores, eventually ending up in the ocean.

“Wet wipes, cigarette butts and other plastic single-use items remain prolific and are among the most commonly found items this year.

“We use the data collected during the surveying and clearing of litter from Scotland’s beaches to show the Scottish government what urgently needs to be done to stop the plastic tide at source.”

Inland litter surveys were also carried out which revealed that masks and gloves were found at 69% of sites.

Animal charities have asked the public to cut the straps of disposable masks before putting them in the bin.

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