The supermarket is donating £500,000 from its carrier bag funds to Marine Conservation Society (MCS), who will organise around 1000 beach and river clean-ups during 2017/18.
Support from Waitrose will help MCS put on more clean-ups and mobilise the public in the fight back against the rising tide of plastic litter on our beaches.
Lauren Eyles, Beachwatch manager at the Marine Conservation Society, said: “Beach litter has steadily risen over the two decades that MCS volunteers have been recording it on UK beaches. Last year, on average in the UK, 694 items of litter were collected for every 100 metres cleaned.
“The marine environment is important to all of us so the MCS beach and river cleans – with their focus on reducing pollution from materials such as plastics – were an obvious choice when thinking where to donate some of our plastic carrier bag funds”
“Plastic bottles and carrier bags, nappies, balloons and tiny plastic pieces can be found on almost every beach in the UK – either washed up, blown there or dropped. Our beaches are suffering, and most of the litter found can be traced back to us – the general public. But we can all do something positive to help – find your nearest event and get stuck in!”
The Waitrose Beach and River Clean-up series will kick off during MCS’s Great British Beach Clean event from 15th-18 September. People can register now to take part in clean-ups at www.mcsuk.org/waitrose
For the first time, many of the plastics removed from the beaches and rivers will be sorted and recycled, giving them a second life as new products.
The charity has worked with Waitrose in the past on its sustainable seafood programme. Earlier this month, the retailer announced that all of its own-label packaging, across all food categories, would be widely recyclable, reusable or home compostable by 2025.
Tor Harris, Head of Responsible Sourcing and Sustainability at Waitrose, said: “The marine environment is important to all of us so the MCS beach and river cleans – with their focus on reducing pollution from materials such as plastics – were an obvious choice when thinking where to donate some of our plastic carrier bag funds.
“It’s our first step in donating £1m to projects to tackle plastic pollution. This builds on our plastics environmental commitments to only sell paper stem cotton buds, nothing containing microbeads and to ensure that all our packaging is widely recyclable, reusable or home compostable by 2025. We’re excited to invite our customers and Partners (employees) to take part in local coast and river cleans to improve the areas for wildlife and all of us.”
Waitrose will also launch easier-to-recycle triangular sandwich wrappers this August. The film window will be easily removable from the rest of the pack meaning the cardboard will be easier to recycle. Last year the retailer committed to not sell any products containing microbeads and switched their cotton buds exclusively from plastic to paper stem.