Adventure Uncovered
Published on 13th December 2019
3 min read

Optical Express, the UK’s only complete eye care provider, is teaming up with the Marine Conservation Society, the UK’s leading marine charity, to protect our oceans and marine life from plastic pollution

Optical Express will be working with the Marine Conservation Society to tackle plastic pollution by cleaning beaches across the United Kingdom. The Marine Conservation Society’s beach cleaning programme, Beachwatch, has been running since 1994 and forms a vital part of the charity’s work to protect some of our best-loved marine wildlife.

Staff at Optical Express launched the beach cleaning partnership this week at the Clevedon Pier beach area in Bristol, where the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Heather Suttie, tackled plastic litter with a team of local staff members. The group’s colleagues at Optical Express clinics across the entire country are now set to follow suit, joining and organising a series of beach cleans planned throughout the UK in 2020.

To date, the Marine Conservation Society’s beach cleans have removed over 11 million pieces of litter, helping to fight back against the tide of plastic pollution. At this year’s Great British Beach Clean, which is run every September by the charity, over 10,000 volunteers worked together to remove 10,833kg of litter in one weekend.

According to data from the volunteers, there were, on average, 558 items of litter on every 100 metres of beach that were cleaned and surveyed in the UK, with plastic and polystyrene pieces the most common litter items found.

Mis-flushed items – plastic products which enter the world’s waterways via our bathrooms – are a significant source of marine plastic pollution, making up 8.5% of all beach litter. Contact lenses and contact lens packaging are a major contributor to this form of plastic pollution, and research carried out by Optical Express suggests that at least one in four people dispose of used contact lenses by flushing them down the toilet or sink.

'We all must try to eradicate single-use plastic when we have alternative choices and we must dispose of plastic responsibly. I was shocked by the items we found on a recent beach clean near Bristol. As an organisation we are committed to taking part in more beach cleans across the UK and Ireland as it's something many of us at Optical Express want to support.'

Heather Suttie Optical Express’ Corporate Social Responsibility Manager

Anne Thwaites, Corporate Relationships Manager, Marine Conservation Society, said:

 "Some of our most iconic marine wildlife is under threat from litter in our seas, with hundreds of species accidentally eating or becoming entangled in drifting items of waste. Marine litter is also dangerous for people and damaging to tourism and our fishing industries. We all have a part to play in turning the tide on litter. It is fantastic to hear that MCS business member Optical Express have organised their own beach clean as part of our fight against marine litter in the UK."