Litter on the UK's beaches increased last year, fuelled by people flushing rubbish down the toilet instead of in the bin, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has said.
Litter levels fell in 2009 from an all-time high in 2008, but the group's annual survey for 2010 showed a 6 per cent rise in rubbish on the nation's shores.
The MCS said there was a 40 per cent increase in sewage-related debris such as cotton buds, condoms and sanitary products, which were being flushed down the toilet instead of being put in the bathroom bin, then ending up on beaches.
MCS's beachwatch officer, Lauren Davis. said people appeared to be flushing away rubbish with an "out of sight, out of mind" attitude. "Sewerage networks and waste water treatment works are not designed to remove these sort of items and more and more are ending up on rivers and beaches."
In the North-east of England, the amount of bathroom waste found on beaches rose by 230 per cent, while in Wales it increased by 110 per cent. It fell in only two areas, the North-west and Northern Ireland.
More than 3,000 bags of rubbish were collected by volunteers who cleaned 376 beaches around England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands. As in previous years bits of plastic along with plastic rope, cord and string, caps and lids, and food wrappers topped the list of items found.