Trash weighing more than 100 Boeing 737 planes – totalling over eight million kilograms – was collected by nearly 800,000 volunteers during the Ocean Conservancy’s 2015 International Coastal Cleanup. This is according to a a new report released at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) in Nairobi, Kenya.
For over 30 years, the Ocean Conservancy has been organising the annual International Coastal Cleanup, which has to date resulted in more than 225 million items of trash having been logged and removed from our beaches and waterways. Over 11.5 million volunteers have contributed to this and have detailed the type of trash collected resulting in a large global coastal trash database. This year, some unusual items collected included 97 TV sets, 28 refrigerators, 39 toilets and 54 bicycles.
Plastic debris remains a growing concern in the marine environment, and the top five most commonly collected items are cigarette butts, plastic beverage bottles, food wrappers, plastic bottle caps and plastic straws, respectively. All are forms of plastic debris.
Acting on existing data and firsthand experiences, a number of Cleanup coordinators have taken note of the pattern of waste items collected during their Cleanups, then using this information to independently attempt local solutions to divert solid waste before it enters the marine environment. In Kenya, one such example comes from the Watamu Marine Association.
“The Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup has inspired Kenyans to take action. In Watamu Marine Park, community based entrepreneurship is turning the tide on marine debris impacting our beaches,” said Steve Trott, projects development manager for Watamu Marine Association and a Cleanup coordinator in Kenya. “All plastic, glass and flip flop waste is recycled creating a waste recycling value chain. Turning trash into cash along the Kenya coast is creating local solutions to a global problem and generating incomes for impoverished communities.
It’s exciting to see the Cleanup grow each year. Volunteers are not only removing more trash from beaches, but they are also contributing to a better understanding of the types of waste entering the ocean,” said Allison Schutes, senior manager for the Trash Free Seas program. “With the launch of our Clean Swell mobile app, I’m excited for these dedicated volunteers to be able to easily collect more robust data as we work to better understand marine debris and work to keep it off beaches and out of the ocean. With Clean Swell, individuals can join a global community working to add vital data to the world’s largest marine debris database by logging the trash they find while at the beach quickly and easily on their mobiles. The database is used by scientists, conservation groups, governments and industry leaders to take actions and ensure trash never reaches the beach”, she added.