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Successful beach clean-up highlights plastic problem

Kenya – More than 8000 tonnes of discarded material was collected by nearly 800 000 volunteers during Ocean Conservancy’€™s International Coastal Clean-up in Nairobi, Kenya. The massive clean-up campaign saw volunteers remove, among other objects, 97 television sets, 28 refrigerators, 39 toilets and 54 bicycles.

However, plastic debris remains ‘a growing concern’ in the marine environment, with the top five most commonly collected items being cigarette butts, plastic beverage bottles, food wrappers, plastic bottle caps and plastic straws. Ocean Conservancy’s Ocean Trash Index is the world’s largest item-by-item, location-by-location database of discards found in near-shore environments.

To date, more than 225 million discarded items have been logged and removed from beaches and waterways. ‘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,’ says Nicholas Mallos, director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas programme.

‘The Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Clean-up has inspired Kenyans to take action,’ adds Steve Trott, projects development manager for the Watamu Marine Association and a clean-up coordinator in Kenya. ‘In Watamu Marine Park, community-based entrepreneurship is turning the tide on marine debris impacting our beaches.’

A parallel clean-up campaign in the Philippines has seen more than 250 000 people retrieve more than 400 000 items over a little less than 1000 km of shoreline. Their collective weight was more than 300 tonnes.

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