Marine litter

1 million birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed by plastic litter every year around the world! Many more are harmed, injured and disfigured.

Marine litter is not just unsightly, it can be harmful and toxic. The impact of marine litter is huge, affecting the health of wildlife and people.

Over 600 marine species are reported to have encounters with marine litter, much of this is with plastic. 

The most widely documented encounters between plastic and wildlife are when they lead to direct harm and death.

“There is no ‘away’ because plastic is so permanent and so indestructible.” - Sir David Attenborough

Biodegradation is the natural process where tiny organisms like bacteria break down materials. Plastic litter is not biodegradable, which means it will stay in the environment forever.

1 million birds and 100,000 marine mammals and turtles are killed by plastic litter every year around the world! With seven billion tonnes of debris entering the world's oceans annually, most of it long-lasting plastic, there's a lot of potential for harm to our birds and marine mammals.

In parts of the ocean there is now more plastic than plankton!

Other materials like metal will take hundreds of years to break down. Glass, like plastic, is not biodegradeable. These materials are particularly dangerous to people and wildlife. Sharp edges covered in bacteria and rust can lie easily hidden in sand and grass.

Children playing on the beach are at risk of injury unless people stop littering. 

Frustratingly this is a problem that is easily solved if people just stop dropping litter.

The Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and East Lindsey District Council are urging people who visit the Lincolnshire coast to pick up their litter and help keep our coast clean and safe.

Here are the items that are found in highest quantities during beach litter picks in our region:

1. Plastic pieces 
2. Plastic straws and cutlery 
3. Cigarette stubs 
4. Pieces of paper 
5. Drinks cans 
6. Crisp/sweet/lolly wrappers 
7. Glass pieces 
8. Polystyrene pieces 
9. Crates/pallets 
10. Cotton bud sticks 
11. Plastic cups 
12. Bottle lids/caps 
13. Metal pieces 
14. Paper/card bags 

Tackling litter costs Britain £1billion a year!

What you can do

  • Pick up your litter. Put all litter in the bin and recycle when possible.
  • Remember that surface water drains flow straight to our waterways. Don't throw any litter in the street or gutter because it might end up in the ocean or on the beach.
  • If you go fishing, make sure you take all your rubbish home with you. That means all your bait bags and lunch wrappers and cans as well as any snagged line and worn-out gear like old nets.
  • Don't wash your car or do a grease and oil change on the road or driveway because the detergent and oil will wash down the stormwater drain and flow into the ocean untreated, poisoning marine animals and plants.
  • Create less rubbish in the first place. Don't buy products that are 'overpackaged'—wrapped in individual packs or several layers of plastic. Buy products in biodegradable packaging. Re-use your plastic shopping bags, or take cloth ones to the shops.
  • Tell your friends and family—or anyone you see littering—about the dangers of rubbish to marine animals and encourage them to do the right thing with litter.
  • If you see stranded marine animals—injured, sick or dead— visit our page for a list of specialist organisations who can help.

Contact: If you'd like a 'Keep our coast clean and safe' poster or if you have any questions please contact You can also download a copy of the poster below.

(Sources: SAS - Marine Litter Report, Scottish Government Marine Litter Issues, Queensland Government Department of Environment Beach and Ocean Litter)



FilenameFile size
Poster - Keep our coast clean and safe3.68 MB