July 2020

Media and films, nurdles report, rubbish apps and your help

As Common, Sandwich and Little Terns plunge-dive for fish near the shore, and Fulmars venture further out looking for surface-dwelling nutrients (they actually use their sense of smell!) let us reflect on the sense of awe the marine environment inspires when we near that salty atmosphere! However, be aware that the Fulmar, a northern relative of the albatross, cannot distinguish between nutritious morsels and plastic pieces. So when it feeds, there is a high probability that some of its food intake is plastic. 

Solo recording of plastic pollution – we can all make a difference

Strandliners needs your help!
If you are out walking and see rubbish polluting our streets, paths, beaches, etc, with solo recording apps you can help make every piece you record part of a greater database. Apps can be used on a smart phone, tablet or computer. It would be great to get some reviews on this from you. The links to the most-used apps are further on in this newsletter (see below) so if you are able to have a go with any of them (or if you already use them) we’d love to hear your comments. This will be helpful in working out the best ones to use in different scenarios. Thank you in advance.

Other organisations will be running beach and riverbank clean-ups in the next few months, but we must recognise that these are short-term actions in the plastic pollution crisis. Waste needs to be recorded and the data shared so that we can identify sources and work towards turning off the plastic pollution tap. 

If we simply pick up, bag & bin rubbish on the beach, there is no record of the type or amount of pollution that’s there, and no way of tracking where any of it has come from. Recording and analysis of beach and river pollution is crucial. The next step is how to make this data useful. On a local level, it can be used to identify the reasons for its presence – whether a design problem, a waste infrastructure problem, or the result of human behaviour. Data should also be shared nationally and internationally, so that a holistic and global approach can be taken by larger environmental organisations to gather, collate and ultimately lobby for change.

Strandliners will continue running surveys and clean-ups as soon as it is safe to do so. We will re-start the Dungeness surveys and carry out the long-awaited event to clear the rubbish behind the Fairlight berm. In addition, we will add the local beaches to the Marine Conservation Society’s, “Great British Beach Clean”. Our protocol for surveying and recording at events may take on a different format and we will, of course, stay within government guidelines.


Since 2012 we have been identifying nurdles on our south east beaches, and also along the River Rother and Cuckmere. These are manufactured plastic pellets around 5mm in size and look a bit like lentils. They are the way plastic is transported around the globe from oil & gas industrial production sites to plastic product manufacturers. Millions of nurdles have gone astray in transit over the last 50 years, and it has been estimated between 5 and 50 billion are lost every year around the U.K.

The Great Nurdle Hunt is an organisation creating awareness of this “hidden” pollution.
Strandliners join the annual nurdle hunt events and the latest Great Global Nurdle Hunt report has just been released.

Strandliners will be leading more nurdle (and biobead) hunts at Camber Sands and the River Cuckmere later this summer and autumn.

Secrets of the Mega Landfill

Thursday 2nd July, Channel 5 at 9pm. This may be interesting, especially after the Strandliners screenings of “The Story of Plastic” and the TV documentary, “The Secret Life of a Landfill: A Rubbish History”. 

The programme has been billed as a ‘Tidal Wave of Waste’, showing how millions of tons of rubbish are dealt with at one of the biggest landfill sites in California – a massive 450 ft deep, and increasing in height by 20 ft a year. Staff say, ‘The landfill site is literally changing the landscape, Once it’s there, it’s there forever’.

If some U.S states have stopped recycling and are turning to other waste disposal methods then what will their landfills look like in the future?

Other Media & Film links:
The Story of Plastic – 2019 film
The Secret Life of Landfill: A Rubbish History – BBC programme
War on Plastic with Hugh and Anita – BBC series
The History of Wastefulness – World Service radio series

Call to Arms – Your help needed!

Solo recording & plastic pollution
Strandliners needs volunteers to have a go at some of the solo apps below.
The aim is to try out as many as possible and then send review or give feedback to Strandliners so that we can focus on one that will help local and national action against polluters.
Thank you to those who have sent their reviews in, and if anyone has used any of these apps please email with your thoughts.

These images are from a Preston photographer documenting gloves and masks thrown on her street.

We are looking at Apps that can be used as solo recording which can help document, track, identify and lead to action on pollution. 

The Apps below seem to be the most used and useful, does anyone use any of these? Or any others? If so please let us know your experience – good or not so good. If you want to record pollution when not part of group events, the links below will take you to the app. We have added some information as a help.

Do try one out and see how you get on:
Marine Debris Tracker – American, since 2014, Global use, data open to all.
Litterati – American, popular, where does the data go?
Marine Litter Watch – European Environment Agency
Littergram – Data to councils? Tag brands, Not open source?
PlasticPatrol – UK, Waterways , Not open source?
CleanSwell – 
OpenLitterMap – Irish & Global, Open source for all to access all data.

Here are some questions to start with:
Can it be used on smart phone, tablet, pc/laptop?
Is it easy to use?
Are many categories of rubbish used? (The more categories the more use the app could be)
Where does the data go? (Only to the App? If shared, where to?)
How secure is it? How much access does it want to your device?

Would anyone like to contribute to a Strandliners newsletter? 

Articles on your own thoughts about marine debris, plastic waste, clean ups and surveys are welcome
– just email Strandliners and let me know.

Do you have any beach found items needing to be identified?