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News article created on 5 March 2014

Band of M&S volunteers set to tackle beach and canal litter

Marks & Spencer has announced details of this year’s Big Beach Clean-up, which will tackle the scourge of litter on 95 UK beaches and 45 canals, including locations that were hit by recent storms.

This year our beaches and canals, and in turn our marine life, need us and our army of volunteers more than ever before. Sacha Berendji

In partnership with the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and the Canal & River Trust, this year's M&S Big Beach Clean-up will take place between 24 and 30 April with thousands of volunteers – including M&S customers, employees and volunteers – taking part.

The target is to clear more than last year’s massive haul of 30 tonnes of litter – the equivalent weight of two double decker buses. Customers that register in advance at www.mcsuk.org/foreverfish will receive a money-off M&S voucher on the day of their beach clean.

Unusual items

Most of the litter collected will be common waste items such as fishing nets, ropes and bottles tops. However last year M&S beach and canal cleaners found an array of unusual items including a bath, coffee maker, HM Prison Service toothbrush and a Freeview box.

Last year over 9,000 people (4,000 M&S employees and 5,000 M&S customers) volunteered and collected 4,000 bin bags full of litter after cleaning over 300km of beaches and canals.

Sacha Berendji, director of retail at Marks & Spencer, said: “Our Big Beach Clean-up 2013 exceeded all expectations and made a significant impact on local communities. This year our beaches and canals, and in turn our marine life, need us and our army of volunteers more than ever before. It’s a fun, outdoor activity and I’m confident we can go one step further and surpass last year’s litter haul. And, as an incentive, there’s a £5 money-off voucher for every customer that gets involved.”  

National treasures

Richard Parry, Chief Executive at the Canal & River Trust, adds: “Our canals are two hundred year-old national treasures that are enjoyed by millions of people each year.They need looking after. Litter and debris can be a real problem, polluting water, restricting use of the canals and towpaths and harming wildlife. That’s why we’re delighted to be joining forces again with Marks & Spencer and all the volunteers who take part in the Big Beach Clean-up. The event will build on the work that is done every day to keep the waterways in the best possible condition, with this year’s event set to be bigger and better than ever.”

The M&S Big Beach Clean-up is part of M&S’ Forever Fish campaign which is funded by the profits from the 5p carrier bag charge in M&S foodhalls. Since its introduction in 2008, the charge has reduced carrier bag use by 75 per cent and raised over £6 million for good causes.