THE MOST scientifically robust survey of litter in the UK has revealed the scale of rubbish on Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole beaches.

BCP Council, environmental charity Hubbub and McDonald’s partnered in a UK first in March this year, mapping litter patterns across the region using drone technology and AI.

Early data from the surveys collected showed that over 123,000 items were identified over the seven days of half term, up from 22,266 in the March survey and a 454 per cent monthly increase.

Over 1.5 tonnes of litter were identified in just a weeklong period, including over half a tonne of glass bottles.

Ellie Mackay, CEO and founder of Ellipsis Earth, who operate the drones, said: “We’re using drones, fixed cameras and mobile and vehicle technology to create detailed litter maps, identify hot spots and build an understanding of how the litter is travelling.

“The data we provide is not only highly accurate but also extremely detailed, allowing us to develop specific, targeted recommendations for BCP, Hubbub and McDonald’s to be able to focus their efforts with maximum effect.

“We have seen proven success of this approach around the world, and we aim to demonstrate the power of this method for the BCP region as well as its potential to extend to other UK councils.”

The top three items littered in terms of number of items were found to be cigarettes (47,467), paper such as receipts and napkins (32,678) and plastic fragments (6,578).

Bournemouth Echo: Drone image identifying litter on the beach - Credit Ellipsis Earth

Family related items, including 370 toys, 342 wet wipes and 147 juice cartons, left behind by litter louts contributed to 6,977 items of litter and 5.7 per cent of all litter identified.

More food sachets (1,677) were identified than plastic bottles (1,530). Sachets are Covid-related trend which is problematic for the environment, yet PPE, including facemasks, only made up 0.7 per cent of total litter.

Councillor Mark Anderson, Portfolio Holder for Environment, Cleansing and Waste, BCP Council said: “It’s great to be the first UK destination to work alongside Hubbub and Ellipsis Earth in gathering data and understanding people’s littering behaviours.

“Even though we have miles of award-winning beaches the ongoing stats and subsequent results will certainly help us to look at our bin locations and refuse logistics on the seafront, in our open spaces and town centre locations.”

In a bid to crackdown on litter on the seafront and across the region, litter-busting interventions are being launched today in key hotspot areas to encourage people to dispose of their rubbish ethically.

Bournemouth Echo: The world's first dosco bin that lights up and plays music has been set up in Bournemouth

Environmental charity Hubbub today unveiled a range of playful initiatives to make the area’s bins more engaging and noticeable; from glow in the dark bins and the world’s first disco bin that lights up and plays music, to bins where you can vote with your rubbish and a Catch of the Day spoof fishmonger stall which will pop up at weekends.

Signage will lead people to the next nearest bin if one is full and ballot bins will tackle cigarette butts in hotspots based on data from Ellipsis Earth’s trash treasure maps.

CEO and co-founder of Hubbub Trewin Restorick said: “The litter survey has provided us with fascinating insight into where litter is being dropped and when across the region.

“The challenge now is to get more people noticing and engaging with the bins.

“We’re trialling a range of ideas, experimenting with messaging, colour and playful interaction – such as installing voting bins where users cast their vote on a changeable topic.”

Bournemouth Echo: A voting bin near Bournemouth beach

Senior Sustainability Consultant for McDonald’s Helen McFarlane added: “McDonald’s is committed to preventing litter in our communities, and we are delighted to be partnering on this innovative campaign.

“We’ve been collecting litter in the communities we serve for nearly 40 years, but we know that there’s a small minority of our customers who dispose of our packaging irresponsibly and we want to encourage them not to litter.

“We hope that this ground-breaking campaign will help encourage people across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole to dispose of their packaging more responsibly so we can all enjoy the outdoors litter free.”