As plastic is an emerging pollutant, standardised methods to identify and quantify the types and amounts of plastic in the environment have yet to be established, particularly for rivers. In order to fill this existing resource gap, the Preventing Plastic Pollution project have adapted the OSPAR Commission's methodology for monitoring marine litter on beaches and applied the same approach of identifying and categorising litter to river catchments.
The Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) Great British Beach Clean is an annual beach clean, run in September, where volunteers, either individuals or groups, meet to collect litter from beaches. The data is recorded by the groups as they are collecting. The data is analysed to show how many items were present per 100 metres of beach. In 2020, 425 litter items were found per 100m of beach surveyed. Their data has been used to make a positive impact on our seas, including the introduction of the plastic bag charge, banning microplastics in personal care products, better wet wipe labelling, and supporting a tax on single-use plastic items.
The Source to Sea Litter Quest is part of the Great British Beach Clean for people who don't live near a beach, or who may have noticed a litter problem area in a park or street. In 2020, 70% of litter picks that took place on streets and in parks found PPE litter, 99% found drinks containers.
Defra produces dashboards that provide an overview of litter and littering in England. The ‘dashboards’ cover data on litter from 5 angles: