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Beach litter bugs leave behind half a television, a French bulletproof vest and an unopened pack of bacon

Half a television, a French bulletproof vest and an unopened pack of bacon were among the mountains of litter cleared from British beaches last year.

They were among 223,405 pieces of litter that volunteers bagged up and removed as part of the Beachwatch Big Weekend 2013.

Organisers the Marine Conservation Society said beach litter was increasing and behaviour needed to change.

The 20th anniversary clean-up, which took place over one weekend in September, saw 2,309 items of litter found on every kilometre cleaned - the highest in Beachwatch history.

"This is a disgusting tide of litter which is threatening the safety of beach visitors both human and animal," said Lauren Eyles, of the Marine Conservation Society.

"It's coming in from the sea, being blown from the land or simply being dumped and dropped. After 20 years of campaigning it's disheartening that in 2013 we are seeing worse litter levels than ever."

According to campaigners 39% of the litter recovered was dropped by members of the public, 12% was linked to commercial and recreational fishing and 4% with the shipping industry.

Miss Eyles says 2013 was a vintage year for finding strange things on beaches.

"As well as half a TV, a French bulletproof vest and a pack of bacon, there was a brass candlestick, some plastic bird feet, a birdcage, a bath plug, half a canoe and a set of dentures," she said.

Top of the finds was once again plastic pieces.

These are tiny bits of plastic that have broken off larger items or have been in the sea for possibly decades and become smaller and smaller.

"Plastic is a real issue for our oceans and beaches," Miss Eyles said.

"This year we also picked up lots of lids and caps. However, despite it being a really warm summer, we saw less crisp, sweets and lolly wrappers and fewer plastic bottles."

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