More than eight million kilograms of trash — equivalent to the weight of more than 100 Boeing 737 aircrafts — was collected by nearly 800,000 volunteers during Ocean Conservancy’s 2015 International Coastal Cleanup, the United Nations Environment Programme reported.
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 beaches and waterways acroos the world.
Some of the more unusual items found in the September 2015 Cleanup include: 97 TV sets, 28 refrigerators, 39 toilets and 54 bicycles, according to the UNEP report unveiled on Thursday on the sidelines of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) in Nairobi.
“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 programme. “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.
“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.”