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Ocean Conservancy App Invites Citizen Scientists Everywhere to Tackle Plastic Pollution this Beach Season

Newly revamped cleanup app collects millions of data points on ocean plastics each year

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Washington, D.C. – Ocean Conservancy has launched its newly revamped cleanup app, Clean Swell®. Clean Swell is the official app of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup® (ICC), which has mobilized nearly 17 million volunteers to remove and record data on more than 357 million individual pieces of trash from beaches and waterways worldwide since its inception in 1986. The app launch comes ahead of Memorial Day, the unofficial start of beach season in the United States.

“Clean Swell has been a game changer for the ICC, particularly in the wake of COVID-19,” said Allison Schutes, director of the ICC at Ocean Conservancy. “What sets the ICC apart from other beach cleanup efforts is its focus on data: for over 35 years, millions of volunteers have recorded each item collected. That’s millions of data points each year, all helping to inform big picture solutions to the ocean plastic crisis. The latest version of Clean Swell makes collecting these data easier than ever, and I encourage everyone to get outside this beach season and join the ICC.”

Data submitted through the app instantaneously upload to Ocean Conservancy’s global Ocean Trash Index, the world’s largest database of marine debris. These data have been used by scientists, environmentalists, governments and others to better understand and characterize the global plastic pollution problem. In 2020 and 2021 alone, at least 20 peer-reviewed scientific publications cited ICC data. They have also been used to support policies that tackle single-use plastics: in the last year, ICC data were cited in stories about California’s recently passed single-use food ware product ban, Virginia’s balloon release ban, and Florida’s proposed bill permitting smoking bans on beaches.

Since the app was first launched in 2016, Clean Swell has become an invaluable part of the ICC, and it’s importance to the global cleanup effort has only increased in the wake of COVID-19. In the absence of large community cleanups, individuals used Clean Swell to conduct small group or solo cleanups, and Ocean Conservancy updated the app to include PPE as a new category which resulted in over 100,000 PPE items recorded by ICC volunteers in just six months in 2020.

The latest version of Clean Swell represents a major overhaul of the app. In addition to a new and improved interface that makes recording trash collected easier than ever, users will now be able to increase their impact by connecting to Ocean Conservancy’s action center directly through the app. There, app users can join the over 350,000 ocean-lovers who sign on to action alerts annually and call for legislation on some of the ocean’s most pressing problems, including plastic pollution.

Clean Swell users can also earn badges based on the different types of trash found and number of cleanups completed, and share their accomplishments on Facebook, Twitter and via e-mail. The app can be used without WiFi or cellular service and is available in a dozen languages. Clean Swell is available for download on the App Store and on Google Play.

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Note to editors:

  • Ocean Conservancy experts are available for comment and interview upon request. Photos of Clean Swell are available here, and photos and b-roll of cleanups are available here.
  • About Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas® Program: Ocean Conservancy has led the fight for a clean, healthy ocean free of trash since 1986, when the U.S.-based nonprofit launched its annual International Coastal Cleanup (ICC). Since then, Ocean Conservancy has mobilized millions of ICC volunteers to remove trash from beaches and waterways around the world while pioneering upstream solutions to the growing ocean plastics crisis. Ocean Conservancy invests in cutting-edge scientific research, implements on-the-ground projects, and works with conservationists, scientists, governments, the private sector and members of the public to change the plastics paradigm. To learn more about our Trash Free Seas® program visit oceanconservancy.org/trashfreeseas

About Ocean Conservancy

Ocean Conservancy is working to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together with our partners, we create evidence-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. For more information, visit oceanconservancy.org, or follow us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

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