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Drone Imagery Helps Stem The Plastic Tide of UK Beach Pollution

Plastic Tide / Youtube


Drone Imagery Helps Stem The Plastic Tide of UK Beach Pollution


Members of the UK public will be able to do their bit for the environment in a project initiated by The Plastic Tide.

The Plastic Tide, a UK-based charity whose mission it is to clean up UK beaches using the potential of new drone technology is appealing to the public to become citizen scientists. To coincide with British Science Week they published an interactive map last Friday to highlight  how widespread plastic pollution has become throughout the nation’s coastlines.

The most commonly found items of plastic pollution included the usual suspects such as plastic fishing line, food containers plastic bottles and straws. However, there were even larger items found such as toilet seats and plastic toys.

Peter Kohler, founder and director of The Plastic Tide, pressed home how serious the problem is, saying, “Marine creatures die each year through starvation due to eating plastic that stays in their stomach making them feel full.

“It is estimated that we eat up to 11,000 pieces of microplastics a year, and if nothing is done to tackle the issue of plastic in our oceans, it’s estimated that there will be 80m metric tonnes of plastic going in to the sea a year by 2025. “

So far, The Plastic Tide have used aerial photos taken using drones to survey UK shores ranging as far north as the Isle of Mull in Scotland and as far south as west Cornwall searching for plastic pollution.

Now along with the British Science Association they are appealing to the public to help tag over 250000 images marking out types and locations of separate pieces of litter. the British science Association  but it says by developing software that will help to understand where the plastics and other marine litter come from but also to work out what kinds of materials make up the detritus, and also how much.

Kohler is enthusiastic about the potential for public involvement in the project, saying, “The good thing, though, is everyone has the opportunity to be part of the solution. Helping identify rubbish on the Plastic Tide site will be one invaluable way of helping to keep our beaches clean.”

The Plastic Tide has previously carried out similar projects both in the USA and Australia.

In Australia they partnered with two australian drone pilots, Martin Leahy of Australian UAV and Jackie Dujmovic will be from Hover UAV. In a successful beach clean up late last year at Port Kembla, south of the coastal city of Sydney, nearly 400 drove survey images were used to identify 85 kilograms of waste.

Earlier this year, in America a collaboration with Digital Drift LLC in New Jersey, drones helped researchers to collect data and analyse rates of accumulation as well as sizes and types of beach pollution.

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Cite this article as: Sarah Whittaker, "Drone Imagery Helps Stem The Plastic Tide of UK Beach Pollution," in, March 12, 2018,

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