Over 8000 plastic bottles were found on UK beaches during just one weekend last year.
On average, 99 bottles were picked up along every kilometre cleaned at 340 beaches – from Orkney to the Channel Islands – during the Marine Conservation Society Great British Beach Clean last September.
These shocking figures have led to calls for a ‘deposit return system’ (DRS) to be introduced to cut back on the amount of plastic we now throw away.
Many people will remember taking pop bottles back to the shop and up until last year the makers of Irn-Bru returned 30p on glass bottles.
DRS schemes currently run successfully in a number of countries in Europe.
The MCS report revealed a 34 per cent rise in beach litter overall between 2014 and 2015, with the largest amount of litter found per kilometre being a staggering 3298 pieces.
More than 6000 volunteers took part in the beach cleaning project which carefully recorded the litter collected from a 100-metre stretch during each clean.
This allowed MCS to build up a picture of the state of our beaches, comparing litter levels year on year. In Scotland, discarded plastic bottles rose by 21.3 per cent.
Lauren Eyles, MCS Beachwatch manager said: “In recent years plastic bottles have become a lifestyle accessory.
“As the need to keep hydrated has been acknowledged as one of the keys to good health, more and more of us are buying bottles of water on the go, resulting in more needing to be binned.
“But is there a better way of ensuring they don’t reach our beaches?”
MCS said the introduction of DRS on all single use drinks containers – plastic, aluminium and glass – would see a massive increase in recycling and a change in people’s behaviour.
MCS is a founding partner of the ‘Have you got the bottle’ campaign led by the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland.
It is confident a Scotland-wide roll-out of DRS would lead to a reduction in the number of drinks containers that blight our beaches.