Arran beaches are getting cleaner

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Subheading: Great news as survey shows cut in plastic litter

There has been a reduction of more than 10 per cent in plastic litter on Arran’s main beaches in just one year.

That is the great news from the results of the September beach surveys conducted on 11 of Arran’s beaches which have now been complied. In all 76 people joined in organised citizen science data-collection sessions around the island.

The beach cleans and surveys were co-ordinated by Think About Plastic (TAP) -Arran with many village organisations including Lamlash Improvements, Whiting Bay and District Improvements, Kilmory Hall, Lochranza Community Association and Corrie and Sannox Village Committee all supporting the event.

The data from these surveys was sent to the Marine Conservation Society and will form part of their Beach Survey Databank which is used worldwide to inform research and policy. COAST collaborated with TAP and support from Arran Kayak Club was welcomed.

TAP – Arran have now produced summaries of the Arran findings and these, together with pie charts illustrating the types of litter and the possible origins of litter, as can be seen here.

Chairwoman Helen How said: ‘It is to the credit of the people of Arran that the proportion of plastic in our beach litter has gone down on average by at least 10 per cent (from 76 per cent to 64 per cent) and the overall amount of beach litter has also reduced. The amount of plastic litter which can be attributable to the general public has also decreased (by 5 per cent). This encouraging reduction in plastic is not attributable to a single factor but to hundreds of small incremental changes which people and businesses have made during the last year.’

Three additional beaches, Machrie, Lochranza and Corrie were included in the cleans and surveys this year. Research methodology, developed by the Marine Conservation Society over many years, ensures that the data collected is robust so that comparisons can be made between beaches and across time. The three new beaches were excluded from one set of comparisons for Arran to ensure accuracy of data for the island. They have been added to new baseline data for the 2019 survey.

In January this year Arran became the first place in Scotland to be accredited as a Plastic Free Community, but there is still much work to do, particularly on our more remote and hard-to-reach beaches. Access to these beaches can be problematic and removing large quantities of litter or individual large pieces can be difficult. Help from farmers and North Ayrshire Council has been useful in tackling this problem.

Helen added: ‘We would like to thank everyone who helps keep our beaches clean and those who acted as beach organisers to collect information about the type and quantity of beach litter on Arran. It can seem a thankless task with each successive tide bringing in new plastic. However, the individuals who pick up plastic each time they walk along the shore do much to keep our beaches clean.

‘It is important to prevent plastic entering our seas in the first place and every single person who lives, works or visits Arran can contribute to this aim by making informed purchasing and disposal decisions. This year’s results show that change is possible.’

  • The full results are now available on the TAP website. You can see how Arran’s beaches are doing by viewing

The material types found during the the 2019 survey. NO_B46Tap01

The material types found during the the 2018 survey. NO_B46Tap02

The possible sources of the material found in the 2019 survey. NO_B46Tap03

The possible sources of the material found in the 2018 survey. NO_B46Tap04

The beach clean which took place at Whiting Bay. NO_B46Tap05

Some of the items found during the Whiting Bay beach clean. NO_B46Tap06

Members of TAP – Arran celebrating the Plastic Free Community accreditation back in January. NO_B04Tap01