Are you planning to start your own local clean up group? Or maybe you are already an established group looking to hold a collection event on our coast? This page will have all the information and signposts you need to help get you started.
When organising a clean-up event there are multiple factors you need to take into consideration and some actions you need to take to ensure a smooth-running, safe, and effective event. See below for more information.
1. Identification of a suitable site
When planning your event, you should consider how many people are planning to attend and whether the site you have in mind can cater for your specific event.
For example, you should be aware if there are any access issues; ascertain whether there are potentially dangerous areas on your site e.g cliff edges, sewage outflows, hazardous waste sites and whether it is appropriate to hold the event here especially if children and other vulnerable groups are involved. You may need to take out public liability insurance for your event and consider having a trained first aider on hand.
Litter picking and safety equipment are vital for these events and so should be obtained in advance to allow attendees to take part in your event safely. Consider using litter pickers, bags, and gloves to prevent any injuries when picking up litter. Get in touch with your local authority, the Marine Conservation Society (or the local Sea Champion) or your Keep Wales Tidy group to ask about borrowing equipment for your event if you don’t already have some.
3. Seeking relevant permissions
To ensure your event is able to go ahead on the day make sure you get the relevant permissions from the landowner. This could be the council, or a private owner.
4. Health and Safety
At the start of the event make sure to hold a health and safety briefing for the attendees so they know the best practices of litter picking, what to do if they find unusual or illegal items and who to contact if they have an issue during the event. As organisers, consider wearing recognisable clothing (e.g. a high-vis vest) to make yourself clear and approachable.
Make sure you complete a risk assessment ahead of the event. You will need to assess the potential risks of your event and ensure that appropriate measures are put in place to reduce them. For example, wearing gloves to minimise the risk of injuring yourself whilst picking litter. Pay special attention to tides and tide times, proximity to busy roads and potentially harmful litter, like syringes and broken glass.
It is recommended that you take out public liability insurance when hosting a litter pick, to cover the group if an incident or accident were to occur.
For further information on health and safety equipment please see our Equipment section above.
5. Some tips and things to remember:
- Make sure to check the tides of your chosen clean up area, more information on tides can be found at www.goodbeachguide.co.uk. Remember, the tides in the Severn Estuary are fast moving and very high. Good practice is to ensure that all litter picking activities are completed/commenced at least 90 minutes before/after a high tide.
- The Coastguard can be contacted by calling 999 and asking for this service.
6. Production of a litter picking plan
Having a plan beforehand and sticking to it throughout the event will help you and your attendees have a safe and enjoyable experience. When thinking of a plan try to answer the following questions:
- Where are the main areas to pick up litter on the site?
- When will the event begin and end?
- What pieces of litter should be picked up, left or reported?
- Are we prepared if someone injures themselves?
- How will we transport the litter off the beach to a suitable waste solution?
- Have we informed all the relevant authorities necessary? And
- Do we have a contingency plan in place for the event should conditions change at short notice?
7. Collection and disposal of material
Collection and disposal of material may vary from council to council but as volunteers, if you find the following items you should remove them safely before contacting the local authority for advice on disposal:
- Broken glass should be picked up using litter pickers only and by adults and placed safely in a rigid container.
- Hypodermic needles and other drug paraphernalia should be disposed of safely (by adults and using litter pickers only) into a sharps box. The discovery of drug-related items discarded on public land should be reported to the council straight away.
Other materials can usually be collected and removed from the area. To find out the easiest way of removing this litter, contact your local council.
Beach Litter Groups
Find out how you can help keep your local beaches, estuaries and bathing waters clean for everyone to enjoy.