Big Spring Beach Clean: Marine Litter Revolution Sweeps the UK

Highlights and impacts from a record-breaking cleanup collaboration  


This April, the Big Spring Beach Clean 2016 delivered a record-breaking 231 beach cleans across UK coastal communities impacted by marine debris. Led by our partners Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), 8,000 passionate volunteers from Cornwall to Scotland and Norfolk to Northern Ireland came together to put the Parley A.I.R. Strategy into practice and remove a staggering 35 metric tons of marine litter from affected beaches. At least 10 metric tons of ocean plastic have been transported to a container at SAS HQ and will be distributed to Parley partners for recycling and research initiatives that can disrupt the cycle of pollution and help create new industry standards.

The staggering realities of ocean plastic pollution can be overwhelming and hard to comprehend, but we can’t afford to bury our heads in the sand. Ignoring the problem gets us nowhere. Ending the plastic tide for good will demand complex, interdisciplinary solutions and the collaboration of many. The most powerful thing any of us can do in the meantime: take action. Every single piece intercepted from coastlines can save a life. During the Big Spring Beach Clean, 8,000 individuals of all ages and backgrounds put their bodies where their hearts, minds, and local breaks are to protect the beauty and fragility of 231 marine habitats.


According to SAS, The Big Spring Beach Clean 2016 was the organization's largest and most successful community beach clean event yet, setting in motion a “marine litter revolution” across the UK. The battle against ocean plastic and marine litter has entered a new phase. The proof is in the stats, stories, and weird and wonderful discoveries from the cleanups:


  • 231 Big Spring Beach Cleans – covering all regions of the UK
  • Over 8,000 SAS volunteers – including over 30 schools, universities and surf schools
  • 35 metric tons – of marine litter removed from our coastline
  • Over 10 metric tons – of marine plastic intercepted to be recycled into new products
  • Weird and Wonderful – Among this record-breaking haul were Scandinavian fish boxes, deck chairs, all manner of underwear, false teeth, trolleys, deck chair and a gentleman’s pipe to name a few.
  • Retro Rubbish – as usual a lot of ‘Retro Rubbish’ was collected, including; a 1960’s Moffat Maid Orange Crush can, a Smith’s Crisps packet from 1979, a Golden Wonder packet from 1969 and an American yogurt pot from 1998.
  • The Usual Suspects – sadly the usual offenders were found on our beaches in their thousands: single use plastic bottles, plastic cotton bud sticks, cigarette butts and cans.
  • Notable Absences – this year beach clean volunteers reported a notable absence of single use plastic bags since a 5p charge was brought into effect.
  • Most common anecdote from the weekend for Lead Volunteers – “That was the biggest turn out/haul we have ever had.”


Thank you to Surfers Against Sewage, TITAN Containers, Avery Denison RBIS, and each and every volunteer who helped make the Big Spring Beach Clean a big success! 


What can you do?

Wherever you are, whoever you are, whatever you are doing, you are connected to the sea. Don't just wait to join an organized cleanup effort. Take initiative, grab a bag, and host your own. Every decision you make is an opportunity to support the cause. 

Help us set a new industry standard by implementing the principles of Parley A.I.R. in your daily life:


Avoid the unnecessary.

Intercept existing sources of pollution.

Redesign and rethink the ways we live on this planet.


Learn more about the Parley Global Cleanup Network

Read more from SAS about the BSBC success

Share your progress and victories with #ParleyAIR || @parleyxxx

#ParleyAIR #BSBC16