The 2020 International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) report, compiled by Ocean Conservancy, has just been published, revealing that plastic still dominates the top ten items found on beaches and waterways around the world… but what is new for this year is that for the first time ever, food wrappers are now the top item found in the natural environment.
Cigarette ends, which are made with plastic filters, traditionally come at the top of the list, but in the last 12 months, almost 4.8 million food wrappers were removed from the environment, compared to 4.2 million cigarette butts.
The problem with food wrappers is that they’re effectively unrecyclable and there are not many alternatives that are more eco-friendly. As a result, the Conservancy is now calling for innovation to create more waste-free alternatives, with packaging experts accelerating research and development into options that won’t go straight to landfill.
Over the last year, volunteers also picked up 1.9 million plastic drinking bottles, 1.5 million plastic bottle caps and 942,992 straws and stirrers, with 20.8 million pounds of rubbish removed from the environment during last year’s ICC.
Last year, 943,195 volunteers in 116 countries collected nearly 32.5 million pieces of trash. In addition to cleaning beaches and waterways, they contribute to the world’s largest database on marine debris by logging each trash item to help inform policy and determine solutions to the growing ocean plastic pollution crisis,” it was observed.
Ocean lovers are now being urged to #CleanOn, reducing waste on an individual or small scale by cleaning up your neighbourhood. You can also learn how to reduce waste at home and ask leaders in your country to prioritise a clean and healthy ocean.
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