2013 Coastal Cleanup draws 1,900 volunteersFour tons of trash includes 23,000 cigarette or cigar butts
This year’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control-sponsored 27th annual Delaware Coastal Cleanup held Sept. 21 drew 1,900 volunteers, who collected four tons of trash from nearly 50 sites along more than 80 miles of Delaware’s waterways and coastline stretching from Wilmington to Fenwick Island. Nearly half of that trash - aluminum cans and glass and plastic bottles - was recycled this year.
“In addition to marring the natural beauty of our beaches and waterways, trash can be dangerous to marine life and unhealthy for water quality,” said Delaware Coastal Cleanup Coordinator Joanna Wilson. “While picking up the trash this year, volunteers again put an emphasis on items that can be recycled. Recyclable glass, plastic and aluminum beverage containers were put into a separate bag for recycling.”
Some items were notable in their numbers. Statewide, volunteers picked up 22,779 cigarette and cigar butts, 67 old tires, more than 2,296 plastic bags, 1,385 fishing-related items and more than 26,000 pieces of food/beverage-related trash. With the exception of fishing items, all of these numbers were higher than the 2012 totals. Most notable were food-related trash, with 18,000 more items than the 8,000 collected last year, and cigarette and cigar butts, with 8,301 more than the 14,478 collected last year.
“If we could get one message out this year it’s that throwing a cigarette or cigar butt on the ground is littering,” said Delaware Coastal Cleanup Assistant Coordinator Rachel Coats. “We found nearly 23,000 smoking-related items this year - and those numbers are much too high.”
DNREC organizes the annual cleanup with co-sponsors including the Ocean Conservancy; Delmarva Power, which donates T-shirts; Playtex’s Energizer Personal Care, which donates volunteers’ gloves; and new sponsor DuPont, which gave the Cleanup a grant through its Clear into the Future Initiative. Also, Waste Management again joined the effort this year, hauling the trash and recyclables collected by volunteers.
Delaware Coastal Cleanup is part of International Coastal Cleanup, the Ocean Conservancy’s flagship program dealing with marine debris and data collection. The types and quantities of trash collected are recorded on data cards and forwarded to the Center for Marine Conservation, which compiles the information to help identify the source of the debris and focus efforts on eliminating or reducing it.
Delaware’s next Coastal Cleanup is set for Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. Volunteers are encouraged to pre-register to ensure sites receive enough supplies. Interested volunteers can check out www.delaware.dnrec.gov next summer for registration information.
For more information on The Ocean Conservancy or the International Coastal Cleanup, go to www.oceanconservancy.org.