Environmental Report 2016: find out all the data about marine pollution


The most collected litter, the most random litter, the amount of litter on purpose, the most polluting activities and more… Every year, the Ocean Initiatives allow Surfrider to study the evolution of marine pollution and its origins.  Last but not least, they allow us to raise awareness among citizens about this terrible environmental issue. 

Every year, the volume of marine litter collected is sadly alike. Luckily, while marine pollution is still a very worrying issue, you are still here to help us to collect the litter on beaches and along riversides during the Ocean Initiatives. In 2016, there were around 35'000 people who took part. 1'398 m3 of litter was collected. That is the size of 9'319 full baths!

Surfrider thanks all the people who took part this year! The final documents that you have been invited to fill in at the end of the collection are precious tools that help the association pursue its scientific study of the marine litter origins and publish our Environmental Report of Ocean Initiatives. More than anything, it permits us to keep raising awareness among citizens around this issue. More than collecting the litter, the Ocean Initiatives is a fun and friendly pedagogic campaign alerting millions of people every year about marine pollution.

What to retain from 2016 report?

Without any surprise, plastic is the main raw material in most of the litter collected: about 60 to 90% of the litter collected are made of plastic. Another significant percentage: about 16% of the litter collected is made of very small plastic pieces – between 2.5 and 50 cm. Those are very harmful litter as they are extremely difficult to collect and are often mistaken by the animals as eatable food.

Moreover, it must be noted that 79% of the litter collected was single use items such as plastic bags or straws. Our top 10 – that is very similar every year – also includes the plastic bag, that fortunately is now banned in France, Germany and should be also banned in the European Union from 2030 onwards. The top 10 also includes cigarette butts, cotton buds, plastic bottles and numerous polyester pieces, as well as micro-plastics.

Regarding the unusual items, the 2016 record is very surprising. We found 24 cars parts including 2 abandoned car wrecks, 6 fridges, 5 bikes, 3 TVs, 2 sinks, one fire weapon, as well as a Santa Claus costume… The distance covered by this domestic litter is very surprising. Even more surprising is how it didn't end up in a dump. This report shows that a huge amount of work on citizens' education towards recycling litter is still necessary.

Plastic Bottles, a very worrying issue for the environment

Plastic Bottles as well as their lids are part of the top 10 litter types we collect the most on beaches and the riversides. There are unique use items which can be very harmful to wildlife when they end up in nature. Animals can end up stuck in them or can directly ingest them. However, several alternatives exist: reusable flasks and water fountains. Using reusable flasks and water fountains instead of plastic bottles will help reduce the amount of this litter on beaches and riversides.

By subscribing to the program of action against marine litter, Surfrider recently initiated the campaign saying “No to Plastic Bottles”. This campaign aims to reduce plastic bottle pollution to its origins by offering alternative solutions. Convinced that the introduction of ecological habits is led by the promotion of suitable alternative solutions, Surfrider will support those initiatives aiming to reduce the consumption of plastic bottles.

Regarding the political aspect of this issue, Surfrider will benefit from a favourable European context with the intense work of the European institutions towards the circular economy. The association will keep implementing and developing its lobbying by relying on existing similar initiatives in other European countries such as Belgium, Holland and Germany.

We will talk about it more in depth very soon during the official launch of the campaign!

Read the Environmental report of 2016 Ocean Initiatives here.

Traduction : Léa Daulan

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