Press releases

Back to press releases index

13 February 2013


  • 8,000 people aiming to collect 15 tonnes of litter
  • 113 beaches and 50 canal locations to be cleaned
  • £5 money off voucher for customers that take part

Marks & Spencer (M&S) is calling on its customers and employees to don their wellies again and volunteer to help their local community by cleaning Britain's beaches and canals.

With the support of the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and the Canal & River Trust (CRT), this year's M&S Big Beach Clean-up will take place between 22nd and 28th April and it is hoped around 8,000 people will get involved.

The target is to clear more than 15 tonnes of litter – more than the weight of a double decker bus.

According to the MCS there are two pieces of litter on every metre of our coastline, most of it plastic. The harmful impacts of plastic on the UK's marine life are becoming ever more apparent and the MCS is concerned that plastic pieces are found in the digestive systems of fish including Whiting, John Dory and Gurnard.

Most of the litter collected will be common items such as fishing nets, ropes and bottles tops. However last year M&S beach cleaners found an array of unusual items including a set of false teeth and half a sofa in Edinburgh, a cabinet near Liverpool, a ten-pin bowling ball in Deal, a carpet in Clacton and a pink thong on Shoreham beach.

The cleans will take place at 113 beaches (open to M&S employees and customers) in the UK and Ireland - including Swansea, Blackpool, Southend, Aberdeen, Coleraine, Dublin and Portsmouth - and 50 canal locations (M&S employees only) - including the Grand Union Canal in London, the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Leeds and the Birmingham & Fazley Canal in Birmingham.

Customers that register in advance at will receive a money-off at M&S voucher on the day of their beach clean*.

Last year over 6,000 people (4,000 M&S employees and 2,000 M&S customers) volunteered and collected 3,200 bin bags full of litter after cleaning over 100km of beaches and canals. The bags weighed in at over 11.5 tonnes. This included 12,800 wrappers and 2,850 tin cans.

Sacha Berendji, Director of Retail at Marks & Spencer, said: “Our Big Beach Clean-up is a great way for customers and M&S colleagues to volunteer, help their local community and protect our precious marine life. It's a great fun, outdoor activity that is rewarding in more ways than one. Beach cleaners are helping the environment, their community and those that register in advance get a £5 money-off voucher.”

Samantha Fanshawe, MCS Chief Executive, said: “M&S' employee and customer support for beach cleans last year really helped us to turn a corner in the fight against beach litter. It is fantastic to have their support again this year and we're hoping for a massive turn out from the public to make this the biggest event ever and to remove even more litter from our precious marine environment”.

Simon Salem, Marketing Director at the CRT, said: “The canal network is a national treasure and a haven for many endangered and much loved species. By supporting the new Trust and our waterways, the M&S Big Beach Clean-up recognises the value of the waterways for fish and other wildlife. By donating their time, M&S employees will help make a real difference to the canal that's on their doorstep.”

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 78 per cent and raised over £4 million for charity.

Customers can find out more and follow the event on twitter or search #beachclean) and facebook (

Notes to editors


* £5 off a £30 spend on food and drink at M&S (terms and conditions apply).

Forever Fish

Forever Fish is funded by the profits from the 5p carrier bag charge in M&S Foodhalls. The three year project, launched in 2011 will:

  • Set-up and run ‘School of Fish', an education programme to inspire 400,000 primary school pupils to learn more about protecting the future of fish;
  • Encourage as many of M&S' 21 million customers and 78,000 employees as possible to help the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) clean British beaches;
  • Invest over £1 million in WWF projects that help better manage UK fish stocks, such as cod, and protect important species like dolphins and turtles;
  • Help customers make healthy and more sustainable choices by promoting more high quality, sustainably-sourced fish and introducing lesser known and more plentiful species such as Dab and Flounder.

The Marine Conservation Society

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is the UK charity dedicated to protecting our seas, shores and wildlife. MCS campaigns for clean seas and beaches, sustainable fisheries, and protection of marine life. Through education, community involvement and collaboration, MCS raises awareness of the many threats that face our seas and promotes individual, industry and government action to protect the marine environment. MCS produces the annual Good Beach Guide, the Good Fish Guide and Fishonline on sustainable seafood, as well as involving thousands of volunteers in projects and surveys such as MCS Beachwatch and The Big Beach Clean-up.

The Canal & River Trust

The Canal & River Trust is the guardian of 2,000 miles of historic waterways across England and Wales. We are among the largest charities in the UK, maintaining the nation's third largest collection of Listed structures, as well as museums, archives, navigations and hundreds of important wildlife sites.

We believe that our canals and rivers are a national treasure and a local haven for people and wildlife. It is our job to care for this wonderful legacy – holding it in trust for the nation in perpetuity and giving people a greater role in the running of their local waterways.

- Ends -

Further information

Daniel Himsworth, Marks & Spencer Press Office, 0208 718 1618

Elizabeth Treversh, Marks & Spencer Press Office, 0208 718 4526

Marine Conservation Society: Richard Harrington, 01989 561585

Canal & River Trust: Jonathan Ludford, 0203 204 4514


Back to press releases index

Back to top