Essex: Volunteers fighting the war against litter on Harwich, Brightlingsea and Jaywick beaches

Volunteers at a recent beach litter pick in Essex

Volunteers at a recent beach litter pick in Essex - Credit: Archant

GLASS, cotton buds and fishing line are among the most common types of rubbish found on Essex’s beaches, according to a litter clearing group.

The Essex Coastal Wardens, who organise volunteer groups to tidy-up stretches of beach in the county, has drawn up a list of the top five types of rubbish found along Essex’s 350 mile-long coastline,

According to project officer Emma Webb, glass is the most common item they have picked up, followed by cotton buds, plastic, fishing tackle, and sandwich and food wrappers.

The list was formed by carrying out a detailed survey of a 100-metre stretch on every beach clearance the groups have completed. They recorded 890 separate pieces of glass, more than 500 cotton buds and 450 pieces of plastic of various types.

Since the initiative was set up at the end of last year, volunteers have cleared litter from beaches in Harwich, Walton-on-the-Naze, Jaywick and Brightlingsea, as well as Canvey Island and Maldon.

In total, the group has collected more than 50 bin bags of rubbish this year, as well as many large items like car tyres and fishing nets.

Ms Webb said: “Litter is a huge problem along our coasts – it doesn?t just look unpleasant; it can harm and even kill some of our best-loved marine wildlife including seabirds, turtles and whales who mistake it for food and actually eat it.

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“In many cases, this has resulted in starvation, poisoning or entanglement and ultimately a slow, painful death.

“The Essex coastline is an internationally important area with a rich variety of wildlife and any help we can give to keep it free from litter is vitally important.”

A well as beach clearances, the Essex Coastal Wardens Scheme, which is jointly-funded by Essex County Council and the Conservation Volunteers charity, runs a range of events aimed at getting communities to take more care of beaches near them. These include habitat management tasks, coastal monitoring surveys and educational activities.

Around 50 volunteers have signed up to the scheme so far with a about a third currently undergoing training to be able to organise their own volunteer groups.

Ms Webb added: “The hope is the volunteers will become the eyes and ears on the coast, gathering and forwarding on a variety of information, which will assist relevant decision-making bodies with their management of the coast.

The next Essex Coastal Wardens beach clean is due to take place this Sunday, May 5 at Brightlingsea, and the call has gone out for more volunteers to join in.

The event will start at 1.30pm with a meeting at Bateman’s Tower Café in Promenade Way.

Those interested should contact Ms Webb on 01206 764470 07920 235987 or via email at to ensure enough litter pickers are taken along. Familes are welcome to attend.