Ocean initiatives: from waste collection to European decision makers


As the 20th edition of the Ocean initiative is kicking off this week, Surfrider Europe wishes to come back on the necessity of these waste collections by reminding, their reach especially at local, national, and European level. You are wondering how such fieldwork action can lead to the adoption of new political measures? Here is the answer!

Take part in ocean initiative: collect waste and... data!

More than a waste collection, each Ocean Initiative is a very efficient way to collect data. More than a simple clean-up on the outskirts of waterways, this program has the objective of quantifying and qualifying waste after each operation. Thoroughly sorted and divided across several categories this data recorded by volunteers futher develops Surfrider Europe’s database on aquatic waste. 

The organization brings a true added value to standard clean up operations. Rather than a curative action, the development of participative science is at the heart of Ocean Initiatives and allows the NGO to act directly on the source of the pollution. 

Indeed, by collecting data volunteers are made aware of the origins of waste. This sorting and counting system highly improves scientific knowledge of the individual and association. Shared with research laboratories, engineering departments or environmental institutions, the collected data also represents a cultivaed expertise. By communicating this data, Surfrider Europe informs the public about marine litter, an effort that is essential to initiate a global change of mentality and practices. During the 2020 Ocean Initiatives, for example, the equivalent of 90 Olympic swimming pools full of cigarette butts were collected, 47 622 cotton buds representing 40 football pitches were collected and 9 779 tampon applicators corresponding to 37 years of use for a woman were collected... Impressive data that can only raise awareness. 

A scientific support to influence public action

Above all, these figures are essential to push decisions makers to act in favor of reducing waste at the source and protecting the Ocean. Environmental assessments, brought to life thanks to the data collected during Ocean initiatives, are undeniable scientific proof to pressure local and European authorities. But also, to alert on new pollution and monitor the impact of adopted measures. 

Well-known to European institutions, Surfrider Europe’s expertise allows it to increase its lobby on European actors. Once well-informed on the issue, decison makers have all the keys to act in favor of reducing waste production at the source. Taking part in Ocean iniatives, either on a beach or inland waterway, contributes to a fascinating process that can lead to the adoption of new measures in favor of the Ocean. 

Numerous victories of Surfrider Europe lobbying European Union: keep collecting to have new measures adopted in favor of the Ocean 

Thanks to the data collected during Ocean initiative and lobbying actions of Surfrider Europe, numerous measures have been adopted at European level. Among them, has been recently set up, the SUP directive. Its goal is to reduce the impact of single-use plastic on the environment by banning certain types of products and by reducting the impact of others, such as the ones coming from tobacco. Also, directives on checkout plastic bags and framework strategy on the marine environment came to life thanks to this participative science.

The fight is, of course, far from being over and Surfrider needs you for new measures to be adopted. Thus, we need to keep collecting waste and data, all together, to have decisions taken about filter media, industrial plastic pellets or containers lost at sea, and better take care of the Ocean.

2020 Environmental assessment

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The passion for the oceans, the coastline and the pleasures animate everyone who supports Surfrider and guides the organization's action.


Surfrider is rooted in the value of sharing and participation through inclusion and diversity.


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