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A Voice for Our Ocean

Trash Weighing More than 100 Boeing 737s Collected During 30th International Coastal Cleanup

NAIROBI, May 26, 2016 – More than eight million kilograms (18 million pounds) of trash—equivalent to the weight of over 100 Boeing 737s—was collected by nearly 800,000 volunteers during Ocean Conservancy’s 2015 International Coastal Cleanup according to a new report released today at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) in Nairobi, Kenya.

Ocean Conservancy’s Ocean Trash Index is the world’s largest item-by-item, location-by-location database of trash found in near-shore environments. Over 30 years, more than 225 million items of trash have been logged and removed from our beaches and waterways. Some of the more unusual items found in the September 2015 Cleanup include: 97 TV sets, 28 refrigerators, 39 toilets and 54 bicycles.

This database is the cumulative result of more than 11.5 million volunteers helping us to better assess the problem of trash in near-shore environments over 30 years, and they have my immense gratitude,” said Nicholas Mallos, director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas® program. “Because of them, not only are our beaches cleaner and healthier, but we have this remarkable dataset that we and other researchers are using to develop solutions to make sure our trash never reaches the beach.

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.

The Philippines’ contribution was also of particular note to the 2015 Cleanup, bringing the highest amount of participating volunteers for the Cleanup. In total, more than 250,000 Filipinos retrieved more than 400,000 pieces of trash over a little less than 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) of shoreline. These items collectively weighed more than 300,000 kilograms (665,000 pounds), or roughly the same weight as 220 average cars.

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.

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