Over 12 million pounds of trash collected during international coastal cleanup

Marine Litter experts and NGO leaders gathered in Okinawa for “Blue October 2013” in Onna Village, thanks to the support from the Japan Fund for Global Environment (JFGE) and Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN) through the APN-Scientific Capacity Building/Enhancement for Sustainable Development in Developing Countries (CAPaBLE) Programme entitled “Building Capacity on Marine Litter Management in the NOWPAP Region” (CBA2013-15NSY-Heinrich-Sanchez).

The total amount of trash picked up during the 28th year of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup weighed more than 12 million pounds, the most ever collected in the event’s history, according to a report on the Cleanup and its data released today. This new total is an indicator of the tremendous amount of ocean trash found on shorelines and in the ocean and waterways around the globe.

The data were collected last fall during the 2013 International Coastal Cleanup, the largest annual volunteer effort aimed at improving the health of the ocean. While the report and the information it contains is a celebration of a truly international volunteer effort to rid the world’s beaches of trash and debris, Ocean Conservancy also is using this occasion to make a worldwide appeal to find solutions to stopping – at its many sources – the trash that ends up in the ocean.

“Ocean trash truly is a global problem that affects human health and safety, endangers marine wildlife, and costs states and nations countless millions in wasted resources and lost revenue,” said Andreas Merkl, Ocean Conservancy’s president and CEO. “At its core, however, ocean trash is not an ocean problem; it is a people problem – perpetuated by the often unwitting practices that industry and people have adopted over time. But I am convinced we can solve it if we have the audacity to confront the problem head-on.”

“The more we cleanup, the more trash there is.  It’s time that we take a systems approach towards finding a way to prevent trash from getting into the ocean.  Beach cleanups are the symptom of our unsustainable lifestyle, education for a sustainable future starts today,” said E. Heinrich-Sanchez, Chief Navigator of World O.C.E.A.N. and co-founder of the Okinawa International Clean Beach Club.  Last October, experts along with government representatives and NGO leaders met in Onna Village at the OIST campus for the 1st Okinawa NGO Asia-Pacific Forum followed by the UNEP Regional Seas Programme Northwest Pacific Action Plan (NOWPAP) Workshop and ICC Campaign.  The NOWPAP is an intergovernmental initiative between China, Japan, Korea and Russia.  National and regional Int. Coastal Cleanup coordinators from several countries attended.  E. Heinrich-Sanchez added “Until we find a solution to this problem, we need to guarantee the right of our children to grow up with clean beaches and healthy oceans”.

From the shorelines of beaches and waterways, as well from the water, 12,329,332 pounds (5,592,491 kg) of trash was collected by 648,015 volunteers during the Cleanup.  They did this by walking 12,459 miles (20,058 km) of shores and searching 455 miles (732 km) of water.

In Okinawa, NOWPAP WS and NGO leaders along with volunteers  (total of 181 in Okinawa) picked up 61 kg of trash, 32 bags over 1.5 km of coastline. The 6-Zero-9 Okinawa model encourages Okinawa Clean Coast Network (OCCN) volunteers who participate in the June to July -“MARUGOTO” Island Wide Okinawa Clean Beach Campaign- to clean-up the same locations from September to November during the International Coastal Cleanup recording what is collected using Marine Debris Data Cards.

During the 2013 Cleanup:

  • The trash collected by volunteers would fill roughly 38 Olympic size swimming pools and is equivalent to the weight of 823 male African elephants.
  • The amount of fishing line collected would go up and over Mount Everest five times, and the number of bottle caps found would carpet three football fieldswhen laid side by side.
  • Enough items were found to furnish an entire studio apartment, including an air conditioner, sink, refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher, stove, oven, microwave, toaster, washing machine, couch, table and chairs, television set, DVD player, coffee table, rug, curtains, curtain rods, toilet, dresser, desk and a bed complete with mattress, mattress pad, box spring, bed frame, sheets, comforter, pillows and pillow cases.

“Recently, the tragic loss and subsequent search for the Malaysia Airlines jetliner drew the world’s attention to the large pieces of debris floating in the open ocean. Now, we have these data that show the vast array of trash along shorelines and in the coastal ocean, and this is only a small fraction of what’s out there,”   said Nicholas Mallos, Ocean Conservancy’s marine debris specialist and conservation biologist. “I believe these events often serve as a wake-up call that our ocean has become the world’s garbage pit and that nations, businesses, and individuals must work together to take the necessary steps to achieve trash free seas.”

The Cleanup is part of Ocean Conservancy’s larger strategy for Trash Free Seas (http://www.oceanconservancy.org/our-work/marine-debris/), and is one of the many ways the organization is joining with others to help find answers and solutions to address existing ocean trash and eventually stop its flow into the ocean. Other Ocean Conservancy-led efforts include:

  • A Scientific Working Group on Marine Debris at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), convened by Ocean Conservancy in 2011, has been collaborating to provide new insights into the scale, scope and impacts of marine plastics. This research is expected to result in a number of novel publications in peer-reviewed scientific literature, and it will help inform recommendations to policymakers and industry and guide future research on marine plastics.
  • Last fall, members of the Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Alliance convened to chart a course for possible interventions aimed at tackling debris at the source. During the meeting, scientists, industry and conservation leaders discussed the implications of the latest insights from the scientific community and defined three innovative work streams to confront marine plastics.
  • This past year, Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas scientists and program staff joined expeditions in Alaska and Maine to survey ocean plastics – in particular, to better understand the origins of debris and how and where it travels once it’s in the ocean.
  • In 2013, Ocean Conservancy partnered with the Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project and Wrightsville Beach—Keep It Clean in North Carolina to launch a pilot project to better understand and protect sea turtles from the dangers of marine debris littering nesting beaches. The project is expanding to nesting beaches throughout the southeast U.S. and Gulf of Mexico during the 2014 nesting season.
  • In Okinawa, International Coastal Cleanup Coordinators from Alaska, California, China, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan (including Ishigaki, Iriomote, Miyakojima City), Korea and Russia convened to create a new baseline for Asia-Pacific cooperation, joined the 1st Okinawa NGO Asia-Pacific Forum (funded by JFGE) https://groups.oist.jp/external-events/event/okinawa-ngo-asia-pacific-environmental-forum-world-chura-beautiful-oceans

and the APN funded “Building Capacity on Marine Litter Management in the NOWPAP Region”


(organized by NPO Okinawa O.C.E.A.N. and NOWPAP Regional Coordinating Unit -RCU),

the day ended with a special evening session on:

  • “Marine Debris tracking, Environmental Monitoring and Disaster Mitigation” organized by the Global Oceanographic Data Center (GODAC); Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC). All were held in Onna Village at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST).


Additional descriptions of items found, info graphics, including the “Top 10 Items Found,” and state-specific information are available online athttp://www.oceanconservancy.org/. For photos and B-roll, please call or email the contact listed above.


The Coca-Cola Company has supported Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup for the past 18 years. Last year, Coca-Cola activated a global employee engagement campaign to encourage participation in the Cleanup. Over 16,000 Coca-Cola system associates, their friends and families in 21 countries volunteered, cleaning more than 250 miles of coastline. As part of its commitment to address global climate change, Bank of America has supported the Cleanup since 2002, with thousands of employees participating in Cleanup events all around the world. Other national sponsors include National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Hollomon Price Foundation, Altria Group, Inc., The Dow Chemical Company, Landshark Lager, Glad, Brunswick Public Foundation, Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Ocean Conservancy educates and empowers citizens to take action on behalf of the ocean. From the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico to the halls of Congress, Ocean Conservancy brings people together to find solutions for our water planet. Informed by science, our work guides policy and engages people in protecting the ocean and its wildlife for future generations. For more information please visit: http://www.oceanconservancy.org/.

The Ryukyu Islands Coastal Cleanup is coordinated by the Okinawa International Clean Beach Club as part of the I Love Okinawa Campaign® contact edo@okinawaocean.org for more information.

14:41 14 Jul , 2024