Volunteers on paddleboards have collected nine bucketfuls of litter from a north-east of England beach.
The clean-up was organised by environmental campaign group Planet Patrol and run by South Shields Surf School.
They collected tins, bottles, fishing lines, tampon applicators and “loads” of small pieces of plastic.
Nick Jones, who runs the non-profit surf school, said the country’s waterways were a “national disgrace”.
“There’s pollution from our water companies, there’s plastic waste going in from all over the place,” he said
“It’s important that we try and do something to stop it.”
The success of collecting rubbish from coastal areas depends on wind direction.
Waste can be blown too far out to sea to be reached by volunteers or pushed back on to the shore where it is more easily gathered.
Mr Jones said Planet Patrol’s purpose was not just to remove waste but to provide data on what was being collected to those who produce it, and to government.
Volunteers are encouraged to record what they find on the organisation’s app to build a database of evidence.
Rather than blaming individual consumers, the problem should be addressed by large businesses “who have the resources and the access to make a significant change to how they package their products”, Mr Jones said.
With the help of the data, the government should introduce legislation “to ensure these big companies who make millions in profits do something about it”, he added.
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