Record amount of plastic waste found during clean up of Brown’s Bay, Islandmagee

Almost 900 items of plastic were recovered during a Marine Conservation Society (MCS) clean up at Brown’s Bay beach at Islandmagee.

Thursday, 30th September 2021, 1:08 pm

Around 35 MCS volunteers removed 35kgs of waste from the east Antrim location as part of the charity’s Great British and Northern Irish Beachclean 2021.

Led by Elena Aceves-Cully, from Islandmagee, participants, including parents and pupils from Islandmagee Primary School, collected and noted a record 1,107 items of rubbish along the full stretch of the beach.

The data, which has been collected by this group for the last 15 years, will help MCS identify the main sources of litter on and keep the issue of the dangers of marine litter to our ecosystem and humans high on the local and government agenda.

Elena Aceves-Cully (right), organiser of the beach clean-up, with volunteers at Islandmagee.

The beach litter survey continued to record plastic as the biggest source of waste (876 items) and the tops six items found on the day were: small and large plastic bits (86), cigarette butts (160), plastic lids/caps (53), crisp/sweet/lolly wrappers (45), small bags (23) and fishing line (25).

In a statement, the charity said: “It was encouraging not to encounter any cotton buds nor dead or trapped animals (which used to be an issue in previous years). Sixty-nine glass pieces, 34 glass bottles and 21 pieces of burned charcoal from barbecues and bonfires were also found.

“It was also very disappointing to find horse poo and also 18 bags of bagged dog poo, showing a considerable increase on previous years. Owners should show more consideration and take those to the nearest bin as they can be a hazard both for beach users and coastal wildlife.

“All participants noted how dangerous plastic and cigarette butts can be to marine wildlife, capable of choking them or being swallowed and eventually ending up in our food chain. Dog faeces are also dangerous to humans and children in particular.

“These figures tell us that the major source of beach litter is still beach visitors, who may forget to use public bins when taking food or drink, walking their dog or having a smoke.”

More details on this survey can be found at

The MCS added that it will use these results at a national level to campaign against these sources of litter.

Elena Aceves-Cully expressed her gratitude to all those who have supported the event.

She said: “I would like to thank the Marine Conservation Society and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s recycling department for providing us with cleaning equipment and materials, organising the picking up the rubbish after the event and supporting the picking effort on the day.

“Again this year I am also grateful to Islandmagee Primary School for encouraging their parents and their children to participate in the event as well as to the large group from Desmo Enterprises from Carrickfergus who brought a few volunteers to the event.”

The Great British and Northern Irish Beach and River Clean took place over the weekend of September 17 -19, 2021 on beaches and rivers all over the UK. Data recorded at each survey has been sent to the MCS to identify the quantities and sources of marine and coastal litter.


Click here to read: Mid and East Antrim Council ‘plans to replace’ portable loos at Islandmagee beach


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