Litter covered beach in the Isle of Skye

Film screening: 50 years of litter on Skye – researchers report on half a century of ocean pollution on island beaches

A short film produced by Loughborough University hopes to highlight the issue of coastal pollution on the Isle of Skye and the efforts of researchers and environmentalists who are fighting to keep the beaches clean.

Film screening: 50 years of litter on skye

The film, 50 years of litter on Skye, is being shown on March 21, at 6pm, in the Edward Herbert Building (EHB) at Loughborough University.

Working closely with local groups, the team of scientists from Loughborough, Nottingham Trent, Lincoln, and Keele universities visited the island’s remote shores last summer to analyse the extent of the litter washed up by ocean currents.

It comes after lead researcher Dr Tom Stanton found a 50-year-old academic paper which warned about the impact of plastics and rubbish being brought Skye by sea.

The film, 50 years of litter on Skye, follows the team as they discover isolated beauty spots such as Camasunary (pictured above) that are carpeted in plastics and discarded fishing equipment.

Beach litter on the Isle of Skye

The aim of the project is to find new techniques for mapping polluted beaches, including with drones, to see if the true extent of the rubbish can be measured.

Detailed investigations at Camasunary identified hotspots of litter containing more than 1,000 pieces of litter per 1 sqm of beach.

The team also tracked the origins of the rubbish washed up on the shores. Among the more exotic items, they found a Chinese-made fire extinguisher, food packaging from the US and thousands of used shotgun cartridges which they believe travelled to the island from Canada.

Shotgun shell washed up on beach

Skye’s natural beauty is maintained by park and groundskeepers as well as volunteer environmentalists.

In Ostaig, in the south, staff at the Clan Donald Estate and Armadale Castle found items including a washed-up wheelie bin from the mainland when they joined the Loughborough team for a beach clean.

Emily Johns, a local volunteer with Skye Beach Cleans, also showed Dr Stanton satellite images of huge fishing nets strewn across the Skye coastline (highlighted below).

Satellite image of large net on beach

The film, 50 years of litter on Skye, is being shown on March 21, at 6pm, in the Edward Herbert Building (EHB) at Loughborough University.

The event will also include a public lecture by Dr Tom Stanton with opportunities to ask questions. It takes place as part of Loughborough’s Sustainability Week.

To book a place at the showing, visit:


Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 24/32

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2023 QS World University Rankings – the seventh year running – and University of the Year for Sport by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2022.

Loughborough is ranked 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2023, 10th in the Guardian University League Table 2024 and 10th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’, and in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 over 90% of its research was rated as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.