Campaign group Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) are launching a new drive to combat what it is calling the ‘plastic pandemic' of COVID-19.
The Cornwall-based group, which organises beach clean ups all around the country, says that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a massive rise in discarded plastics, fuelled even more by a flood of protective masks and gloves.
SAS claim that businesses are using the crisis to revert to using vast amounts of single-use plastic. From 5 September it is launching a new campaign – The Generation Sea: Plastic Protest – which is organising 600 beach clean-ups, and Return to Offender, a social media push which plans to ‘name and shame' the worst plastic-waste companies.
Surfers Against Sewage's Jack Middleton explained: “Since lockdown has started to be lifted, we've witnessed a new wave of plastic pollution littering our beaches in the form of disposable masks and gloves.
“While the PPE has helped to save lives over the past few months, we now need to consider how we dispose of it properly to prevent it from flowing into our rivers and oceans and destroying our beaches.
“We're used to seeing plastic bottles and bags when we're surfing but this new type of plastic pollution is something that no-one could have foreseen.”
Mr Middleton encouraged people to use reusable face masks and said measures introduced to help businesses during lockdown were undermining the battle against plastic pollution.
“We have seen the government roll back on the progress we have made in tackling the plastic pollution crisis,” he said.
“The 5p plastic bag charge has been waived for food deliveries and the much-touted ban on straws, stirrers and cotton-bud sticks that was just weeks away from being introduced has been postponed.”
Photo credit: Peter Cox / Surfers Against Sewage