Marine litter and its cost…

The British coastal holiday market is estimated at £4.7billion annually. This includes another £1.2billion if you include the 110 million day-trippers. The coastal holiday market dominates the local economy of the South West of England, West of Scotland and West Wales.

If a beach is flooded in litter, you’re probably not going to visit that beach are you?

Marine litter can cause beaches to close. This has happened in the US. Consequently, littering is a high-priority issue with coastal local authorities, who may spend a great deal of money clearing litter from their beaches.

Direct costs include collect & disposal of litter a beach + higher/purchase of cleaning equipment. The hidden costs include lost revenue, education, health and harbour costs.

In a survey of 56 coastal Local Authorities, the total cost of beach cleaning was reported to be £1,953,238 for England, Scotland and Wales. This does not represent the total amount of local authorities, which is why total costs will exceed well over £2million.

The problem marine litter causes at a local level:

2 million visitors per year visit Somerset’s resort of Weston-Super-Mare. Tourist trade is worth £14 million per annum to the local economy. The recreational quality of its two beaches are therefore very important to the local community. Weston Beach is mechanically raked and swept once or twice per day in the summer, and is hand-picked in the winter.

The annual cost of cleaning on the two beaches is estimated as £100,000.

Using Marine Litter

Some people think of marine litter as rubbish that can’t be used again. Other people use marine litter to create something that can be used in everyday life. From driftwood mirrors to marine litter guitars, people can create extraordinary things out of ‘rubbish’!

All it takes is a bit of imagination, some marine litter, a bit of glue or screws. And you could end up with something like this.


Locally (Devon) we have our own treasure hunter, teacher Louise Slee, who has spent her spare time creating beautiful masterpieces from marine debris found on her local beach. Her work brings great awareness about marine litter too, if you would like to find out more about her work, she runs a Facebook page called Tregantle Beach, Trinkets, Treasures and Trash. A wonderful way to make your beach clean more arty! For more information about setting up a beach clean read our post here.

So the next time you’re walking along a beach and see some litter, take it! Start collecting plastic, wood or even glass. You never know, you could create the next mantelpiece that’s going above your fireplace or even a gift to give someone as a Christmas present.





KIMO. (2000). Impacts of Marine Debris and Oil: Economic and Social Costs to Coastal Communities (KIMO).ISBN

Rees, Gareth, and Kathy Pond. “Marine Litter Monitoring Programmes—A Review Of Methods With Special Reference To National Surveys”. Marine Pollution Bulletin 30.2 (1995): 103-108. Web.


One thought on “Marine litter and its cost…

  1. Paul

    Using marine litter to make stuff is a great idea, I’m gonna make something for my kids, using the rubbish off my local beach, sounds like a great way to keep them busy too and teach them something important.


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